West Indies will look to get ICC World T20 campaign up and running after being humbled by Scotland in their Group B opener, but openers Zimbabwe, and in particular all-rounder Sikandar Raza, will be no pushovers.
Nicholas Pooran’s side hit a huge roadblock when they succumbed to a shock defeat against Scotland in their opening group stage game. And while it would be foolish to write off the two-time Men’s T20 World Cup Champions at this stage, there were alarming signs ahead of crunch games to come.
Coach Phil Simmons, peeved by the team’s display, termed West Indies’ approach as ‘unprofessional’, but will that provide the motivation for a turnaround in fortunes for Pooran and his side?
They face another potential banana skin fixture against Zimbabwe, with the Africans fresh from their win over Ireland on Monday and eyeing the opportunity to potentially knock West Indies out of the tournament.T20 World Cup Standings
The Zimbabweans rallied around Sikandar Raza’s magnificent innings against the Irish, which propelled them to a formidable score. Skipper Craig Ervine and coach David Houghton will be looking for a little more bite from their top order, though, to avoid leaving it all down to talisman Raza.
However, it is the bowling where Zimbabwe’s strength truly lies, and all the bowlers come into this contest on the back of a good outing and will fancy their chances against the West Indies. Even Luke Jongwe, who bowled two expensive overs against the Irish, will take confidence from an important contribution with the bat at the back end of the innings.
There is a new-found belief in the Zimbabwean ranks since Houghton’s arrival as a coach and one expects the Africans to play fearless cricket yet again. Raza is, deservedly, the man of the moment so far and Windies cannot let the all-rounder settle at the crease.
Windies are also expected to shore up their batting order and could ring in a couple of changes in their bowling department too.
On his day, the southpaw can singlehandedly change the fate of a contest with his stroke play. He can also go through lean patches and occasionally struggles to get out of a rut.
It will be interesting to see how he will go about juggling captaincy duties with his batting if West Indies progress further in the tournament.
For now, though, West Indies desperately need Pooran being at his fluent best at the crease.All the squads for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022
It was senior pro Tendai Chatara’s first spell that put the Irish on the backfoot in the last game and Ervine is expected to turn to the pacer once again during the powerplay.
Chatara’s intelligent bowling set the platform on which Blessing Muzarabani to bag three wickets. The 31-year-old’s experience will be crucial for Zimbabwe to ensure that Mayers and Lewis don’t pick up early boundaries in their innings.
Regis Chakabva, Craig Ervine (c), Wesley Madhevere, Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Ryan Burl, Luke Jongwe, Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava, Blessing Muzarabani
Kyle Mayers, Evin Lewis, Johnson Charles, Shamarh Brooks, Nicholas Pooran (c & wk), Rovman Powell, Jason Holder, Odean Smith, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottrell
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Sikandar Raza played a terrific knock of 82 runs off just 48 balls including five fours and as many sixes against Ireland to guide Zimbabwe to a win in their tournament opener. He has scored 598 runs at an average of close to 43 and has picked up 16 wickets in T20Is to be Zimbabwe’s leading run-getter and wicket-taker in 2022.
West Indies started their T20 World Cup campaign with a loss against Scotland but Jason Holder’s all-round performance in the game was a big positive for the side. The 30-year-old took a couple of wickets at an economy of 4.70 before scoring 38 runs with the bat to reduce the margin of defeat for his side. In total, he has accumulated 48 wickets and 381 runs in 47 T20Is for West Indies.
The Zimbabwean pacer had a poor outing against Ireland as he gave away 24 runs in just two overs without picking up a wicket. Subsequently, he had his third consecutive wicketless outing in the white-ball format. However, he has been a consistent performer for Zimbabwe as he has bagged 48 wickets in 38 T20Is and should be among the wickets during the encounter against West Indies.
-T20 World Cup