Sunday, February 28, Port of Spain
Start time 1400 (1800 GMT)
West Indies and Zimbabwe begin a fresh phase in international cricket under newly-appointed coaches, though the mood is more upbeat in the tourists’ camp. While West Indies will expect to kick start a season of favourable results after a winless tour of Australia, Zimbabwe will have their eyes set on a goal far more significant - a return to Test cricket after their self-imposed exile in 2006.
Alan Butcher is expected to join his team midway through the tour but Zimbabwe will be, in the interim, under the supervision of current coach Walter Chawaguta and former captain Dave Houghton, who has targeted a return to the five-day format before the end of this year. Heath Streak will be supporting him as bowling coach, and Grant Flower begins his duty as batting coach in October.
The return of distinguished former players in coaching roles to boost the team, a refurbished domestic structure based on five regional franchises to better administer first-class cricket, the organisation of a domestic Twenty20 league and the participation of a Zimbabwe XI in the Intercontinental Cup - these are all measures indicating a committed plan to facilitate Zimbabwe’s transition to the cricketing mainstream.
However, Zimbabwe’s exposure to limited-overs cricket in the recent past has been largely confined to playing Bangladesh - they’ve won four and lost ten ODIs against them since 2009 - and Kenya. They haven’t played a Twenty20 international since October 2008. To realise their goal, they need to challenge superior teams and a demoralised West Indies, who, among other disappointments, were also beaten comprehensively in the two Twenty20 internationals against Australia, are a good place to start.
Zimbabwe: WLTLL (All before 2009)
West Indies: LLWLW
Watch out for
Adrian Barath is back in the West Indies squad and will look to build on the bright start he’s had to his international career as an explosive opener. In the absence of Chris Gayle for Sunday’s game, he’ll take the lead at the top of the order.
Barath’s counterpart in the opening slot, Hamilton Masakadza enjoyed a prolific 2009 with 1087 runs at 43.48, including three centuries. He was also the highest run-getter in the Stanbic Cup, Zimbabwe’s domestic Twenty20 tournament. Along with Tatenda Taibu, who launched his tour of West Indies with a match-winning century against UWI Vice Chancellor’s XI, Masakadza is Zimbabwe’s most relied-on batsman.
West Indies are boosted by the return of several injured players: Barath (hamstring), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (thumb), Sulieman Benn (knee) and Darren Bravo (shoulder). Allrounder Dave Bernard jnr and batsman Andre Fletcher have also been recalled.
West Indies (probable) - 1 Adrian Barath, 2 Andre Fletcher, 3 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Denesh Ramdin (capt and wk), 7 Darren Sammy, 8 Dwayne Smith, 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Sulieman Benn, 11 Nikita Miller
Zimbabwe prevailed by five runs in their 50-over tour match, thanks to Taibu and a combined bowling effort, with the trio of Chris Mpofu, Kyle Jarvis and Elton Chigumbura bagged two wickets each.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Charles Coventry, 4 Tatenda Taibu, 5 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 6 Greg Lamb, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Timycen Maruma, 9 Shingirai Masakadza, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Chris Mpofu.
Stats and trivia
* Zimbabwe have never beaten West Indies in a bilateral ODI series. They’ve never played West Indies in a Twenty20 international and have won just two out of seven games.
* Hamilton Masakadza was the fourth-highest run-getter in 2009 in ODIs, behind MS Dhoni, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey.
“We have got to start winning matches and our goal is to get back into Test cricket in a year-and-a-half. The guys are working very hard at this, and this tour is very important in this regard.”
Heath Streak says this tour will be the stepping stone to bigger targets for Zimbabwe
“That series is gone. We are looking to the future. We have a new coach who is looking to great things from us.”
Denesh Ramdin wants the players to put the Australian debacle behind them.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Monday, March 1st, 2010 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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