Zimbabwe

Price: Just right for Zimbabwe

Price: Just right for Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe squad:
Prosper Utseya (captain)
Brendan Taylor
Hamilton Masakadza
Tatenda Taibu
Charles Coventry
Vusimuzi Sibanda
Gregory Lamb
Elton Chigumbura
Graeme Cremer
Raymond Price
Christopher Mpofu
Tymcen Maruma
Craig Ervine
Andy Blignaut
Chamunorwa Chibhabha

Overview

Forced out of last year's tournament by politics, much has changed for Zimbabwe in the past 12 months - and most of it has been positive.

Handed an ultimatum by the ICC to reform or be cast aside, the Zimbabwe Cricket board has responded by adhering to a number of recommendations put forward by an ICC task force.

The domestic structure has been revamped, former players have been appointed to key coaching positions and finally the young squad has the sort of environment in which they can improve. Furthermore players previously at loggerheads with the board have started to return.

New coach Alan Butcher has talked up the possibility of his side springing an upset similar to their stunning result against Australia in the 2007 event, but in truth Zimbabwe have probably taken two steps backward and then two steps forward since that match.

Strengths

Utseya: One of several spinners

While there's been a great deal of stagnation elsewhere, Zimbabwe's spin department has developed very nicely over the past couple of years and they go into the tournament with no fewer than four slow bowlers in their squad.

Left-armer Ray Price has been at the heart of it throughout, providing a maturity that his 20-something-year-old team-mates lack. In five Twenty20 internationals to date he's conceded runs at a miserly rate of 3.5 per over, an impressive record even if two of those matches were against Canada.

Meanwhile, leggie Graeme Cremer has made steady progress over the years to hold down a regular place in the side, and at the age of just 23 he's now showing a good command of a very difficult art.

Those two are likely to join skipper Prosper Utseya, who now has 105 one-day internationals to his name, in the starting line-up as Zimbabwe use spin as their main weapon.

Weaknesses

Masakadza: Must get a move on

Elton Chigumbura and Andy Blignaut aside, there isn't really anyone who can come in and blast a quick half-century from 20-something deliveries and take Zimbabwe from a handy total to an imposing one.

Many of the batsmen have shown themselves to be steady, but while most are capable of keeping the runs ticking over they can't afford to get bogged down for more than an over or two and expect to catch up.

Equally there is an over-reliance on the spinners, with none of the quicks sporting an ability to squeeze opposing batsmen at the death.

Six-hitter - Elton Chigumbura

Chigumbura: Big-hitting potential

Having beefed up his upper body over the years, Chigumbura has added strength to a keen eye and his quick runs have seen him rewarded with a Twenty20 Cup contract with English county Northamptonshire this year.

In 108 ODIs he boasts an impressive strike rate of 83, while his Twenty20 runs have come at a rate of 146. His clout in the middle order will be crucial to Zimbabwe's hopes of springing a surprise in a group that also includes New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Strike bowler - Graeme Cremer

Cremer: Talented leggie

As a classic legbreak bowler, Cremer can be very difficult to get away when he gets it right. Although most of his experience has come in the one-day format, in two twenty20s to date he's picked up five wickets to date at an average of just 4.20.

The World Twenty20 will be the sternest examination of his skills since he played two Tests against South Africa as a fresh 18-year-old, but it seems he is now better equipped to handle the challenge with five more years of experience under his belt.

Look out for...Andy Blignaut

Blignaut: Back in the fold

An energetic character, Blignaut promises entertainment whenever he has bat or ball in his hand, and Zimbabwe will be hoping he's his old explosive self as he returns to the fold after a four-year absence.

Although he doesn't come off often, no-one else in the Zimbabwe squad can hit a cricket ball as far as Blignaut and his lower-order muscle will be key to posting competitive totals.

He can have a tendency to try and bowl too fast and the result is a one-day economy rate of 5.34, but if he gets it right then he will be a crucial back-up to the plethora of spinners Zimbabwe will have in their team.

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