WT20 : Scotland V Zimbabwe, World T20 Preview

WT20 : Scotland V Zimbabwe, World T20 Preview

Zimbabwe wasn’t at its best in the opening Group B contest against Hong Kong, and yet was able to come through with a fairly comfortable win to open its account in the ICC World Twenty20 2016 on Tuesday. Its batting had its moments but by and large didn’t live up to reputation, its fielding was patchy and the bowling left a lot to be desired.
vusi-sibandaShould these chinks rear their heads when it takes on Scotland at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium on Thursday (March 10), Zimbabwe could well be in for a bumpy ride.

Unlike Hong Kong, Scotland has a lot more to challenge Hamilton Masakadza’s unit with because it has a powerful top order and a good pace unit. Its middle order didn’t fire against Afghanistan, but should Kyle Coetzer and George Munsey come out swinging like they did on Tuesday night, the middle order too might step up.

Batsmen like Matt Machan, Calum MacLeod, Richie Berrington and Preston Mommsen, the skipper, have what it takes to get the board moving at a fairly brisk pace. None of these batsmen capitalised on the perfect start offered by the openers against Afghanistan, but it’s a lesson worth learning early in the tournament.

The problem is that Scotland has three group games to make its way into the Super 10 and has already squandered one chance, meaning the pressure on it is two-fold. Scotland already needs to win the two remaining games and for other results to work in its favour.

Batting aside, its bowling, which relies all too heavily on pace, too perhaps needs a change in composition. Despite having witnessed the first game and recognising that the pitch had little for the pacemen, Scotland went in with only one full-time spinner — Mark Watt — and four pacers. Machan chipped in with a couple of overs but they went for 22 runs. Even Watt finished with figures of 1 for 30 from 4 overs, but the left-arm spinner looked the most threatening. Perhaps, bringing in either Michael Leask or Con de Lange and sacrificing one paceman will give it the necessary balance going forward.

Its potential reservations about a change in combination perhaps stems from the fact that the four-one split worked well during the ICC World T20 Qualifiers 2015 , where it finished joint winner with Netherlands to qualify for the ICC World T20 2016, but those games were held in Scotland and Ireland in seamer-friendly conditions.

“That is not something we have considered so far, but we’ll take a call after looking at the kind of surface we are playing on,” said Grant Bradburn, the Scotland coach after the team’s 14-run loss.

While Scotland grapples with the idea, Zimbabwe is only trying to get its three spinners to execute plans. With Welligton Masakadza leading the way, Zimbabwe has a fairly established spin group that includes Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams. None of the three was consistently effective in the first game but they do pose a threat in the middle stages.

Against Hong Kong, Tinashe Panyangara, Donald Tiripano and Tendai Chatara, the medium pacers, bowled a disciplined length. One of the reasons the bowlers had that luxury was because the batsmen had set it up nicely. They put up a good total with Vusi Sibanda and Elton Chigumbura coming up with crucial runs, though Hamilton Masakadza’s dismissal for 20 brought an end to what could have been another visual treat.

The question now is if players like Richmond Mutumbami, Williams and Raza can step it up. The trio contributed 15 runs combined when it was required of them to stand strong. Fortunately, Malcolm Waller complemented Sibanda, but that can’t always be the case. Not with qualification on the line.

Teams (from):

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.

Scotland: Preston Mommsen (capt), Kyle Coetzer, Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross (wk), Josh Davey, Con de Lange, Alasdair Evans, Michael Leask, Matt Machan, Calum MacLeod, Gavin Maine, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Rob Taylor, Mark Watt.