ICCT20 : Zimbabwe vs Hong Kong, ICC T20 World Cup Preview
Hong Kong will go up against Zimbabwe for the first time in a Twenty20 International, and the stage couldn’t be grander. Both teams will clash in the opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 2016 on Tuesday (March 8), at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur.
Hong Kong has beaten Scotland and Afghanistan – the other teams in Group B – before, and will thus be quietly confident of its chances against the more experienced team. But while Tanwir Afzal’s men have the talent to get the better of their opponents, things aren’t so simple when it comes to the biggest stage, and certainly not when progress to the Super 10s depends on doing very well in almost each match beforehand.
On this stage, you need experience to succeed and Zimbabwe has that in abundance.
Led by Hamilton Masakadza, a veteran who has been around international cricket for nearly 15 years, Zimbabwe also boasts of seniors like Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura, Vusi Sibanda and Tinashe Panyangara, who have seen Zimbabwe through ups and downs. It also has a good sprinkling of young men in the outfit with Wellington Masakadza at the helm of that camp.
In some ways though, the Zimbabwean side is still one that is figuring out the T20 puzzle, and first on the agenda is progressing to the next round – which it failed to do in the previous edition. “We haven’t been able to get things to come together,” said Hamilton during the pre-match press conference on Monday. “We have guys who are very experienced and they have seen enough at this level. We need to treat every game like it’s our last chance of making it to the main draw. We failed last time (in the ICC World T20 2014) and we don’t want to repeat that.”
Zimbabwe has also lost the services of Graeme Cremer, Luke Jongwe and Neville Madziva to injuries. The trio were replaced by Chamu Chibhabha, Tawanda Murapiwa and Donald Tiripano. “It obviously hurts that we lost some of our first choice players but I think our bench is strong enough,” said Hamilton.
Zimbabwe lost to a Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association XI side in its opening warm-up game before defeating Ireland. If that points to a vulnerability against relatively unknown opponents, it could be the best shot Hong Kong has of staging an upset.
“We have studied them and we know everything that they are capable of,” said Afzal. “We have done well in this format and we have done well to come this far. The boys only want to put up a good show and go as far as possible.”
Should Zimbabwe slip up, Hong Kong has the elements required to capitalise on it. First and foremost there’s Chapman, who has shown good promise with the bat and is capable of being useful with the ball as well. Then there’s Babar Hayat, Ryan Campbell and Nadeem Ahmed, all three of whom have been in exceptional touch recently.
The odds are still against Hong Kong – but then, that’s what people said of Zimbabwe when it was due to take on Australia in the opening match of the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 – and that match provided the cricketing world with a spectacular upset.
Zimbabwe: Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, Tinashe Panyangara, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Sikandar Raza, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Tendai Chisoro, Malcolm Waller, Vusi Sibanda, Donald Tiripano, Chamu Chibhabha, Tawanda Mupariwa.
Hong Kong: Tanwir Afzal (capt), Aizaz Khan, Anshy Rath, Jamie Atkinson (wk), Babar Hayat, Ryan Campbell (wk), Christopher Carter, Mark Chapman, Haseeb Amjad, Nadeem Ahmed, Nizakat Khan, Kinchit Shah, Tanveer Ahmed, Waqas Barkat (wk), Waqas Khan.VENUEST20 VISIONTROPHY TOURSOCIAL HUBABOUTTICKETSMOBILEFANTASY