World Twenty20

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World T20 Fixtures Released

The fixture list for next year's World Twenty20 tournament has been released. The draw hasn't been particularly kind to Zimbabwe, who have landed in group C along with South Africa and hosts Sri Lanka. The group fixtures are:

18 September 2012       Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe            Hambantota
20 September 2012       South Africa v Zimbabwe         Hambantota
22 September 2012       Sri Lanka v South Africa        Hambantota

Top two sides from the group will qualify for the Super Eight, played in two groups of four, with the top two sides from those groups then going on to the semi-finals. Full details on the Fixtures page.

Zim Exit World T20 After Folding to New Zealand

It should have been a grudge match, with New Zealand's refusal to honour their Future Tours Programme commitment to tour Zim a constant annoyance to Zim fans, but after impressing in their warmup matches, Zimbabwe capitulated in the most abject fashion to hand New Zealand a place in the Super Eight and earn their own early trip home. Batting first, Zimbabwe were bowled out for a pitiful 84 inside 16 overs - Tatenda Taibu (21) and Hamilton Masakadza (20) got the side off to a cracking start, but once they were out of the way Zimbabwe's innings became a progression of tame wickets that gave the side no honour at all. Scott Styris (3/5 from 2 overs) and Nathan McCullum (3/16 from 4 overs) did most of the damage.

Zim's bowlers also had no answer for New Zealand's batting - Utseya scored one success, taking the wicket of Jesse Ryder early in the innings, but from there the Blackcaps marched on until the rain came down. Play stopped with 8.1 overs bowled, enough to count as a match and with New Zealand ahead of the D/L sums. And that was the end of that.

Full scorecard below the cut. Zimbabwe's next international action is the tri-series against Sri Lanka and India, which gets underway with Zimbabwe v India at Bulawayo on May 2th.
Zimbabwe 84 (15.1/20 overs; Taibu 21, Styris 3/5), New Zealand 36/1 (8.1/8.1 overs; McCullum 22*, Utseya 1/21). New Zealand win by 7 runs (D/L Method).

Zimbabwe Lose to Sri Lanka as Rains Disrupt Play

Bad weather denied Zimbabwe the chance of a tough run-chase to get their ICC World Twenty20 campaign off on a positive note, as they lost to Sri Lanka by 14 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method at the Providence Stadium in Guyana on Monday.

Sri Lanka had won the toss and batted first, scoring 173 for seven in 20 overs as Mahela Jayawardena took advantage of a couple of moments of poor fielding to score a scintillating 100 off 64 balls. Jayawardena opened the batting and drove Sri Lanka to 73 for one after eight overs. But with the run-rate threatening to get out of control, the spinners put the brakes on and ensured one of the tournament favourites did not get away from them in the second half of the innings.

Thissara Perera planted two sixes in the cow corner area but was then dismissed for 23, Elton Chigumbura taking a fine catch running around the boundary off Greg Lamb.

Thereafter, the spinners nipped all Jayawardena's partners in the bud.

Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer obtained some turn and bounce to dismiss Kumar Sangakkara for three and Ray Price deceived both Chamara Kapugedera (13) and Jayawardena with the last two balls of his bowling stint.

Price covered himself in glory with figures of two for 31 in four overs, while Prosper Utseya snared one for 32, Lamb two for 34 and Cremer one for 23 in three. A furious rain storm interrupted Zimbabwe's chase after just one over, with the score four without loss.

After the tropical weather had had its say, Zimbabwe returned with a Duckworth/Lewis revised target of 105 in 11 overs.

Tatenda Taibu and Hamilton Masakadza went about building the platform for a late five-over flurry, wickets in hand being one of the keys to success in this format.

Taibu's strength lies in his speed between the wickets and improvisation, but this was a weakness on this occasion as the wicketkeeper squeezed a ball from Lasith Malinga to third man and came back for a second run that had Hamilton Masakadza in two minds, and eventually he was run out for four.

Both Taibu (12*) and Brendan Taylor (11*) looked in good touch, however, as they took Zimbabwe to 29 for one after five overs. Sri Lanka had just fitted in the minimum number of overs for a result when the Providence Stadium was inundated by another rain shower, with Zimbabwe short of the 44 runs they needed to score in five overs.

Full scorecard below the cut. Zimbabwe will now need to win against New Zealand in their final pool game in Guyana on Tuesday, and hope that they can close the net run rate gap by enough to edge past New Zealand.
Sri Lanka 173/7 (20/20 overs; Jayawardene 100, Price 2/31), Zimbabwe 29/1 (5/5 overs; Taibu 12*, Mendis 0/9). Sri Lanka win by 14 runs (D/L Method).
[Match report provided by ZC]

Zimbabwe Claim Another Scalp in 2nd Warm-Up Match

Zimbabwe followed their tense, one-run victory against Australia on Tuesday with a comfortable 12-run win over defending champions Pakistan in their second warm-up match of the ICC World Twenty20 at the Beausejour stadium on Thursday. The underdogs posted a marginal 143/7 in their 20 overs after being put into bat but yet another disciplined bowling and fielding performance restricted Pakistan to a meagre 131 in reply.

The attention of the cricket playing world, never mind the Caribbean, is now rapidly turning towards the revitalised minnows in red. Having been many peoples' favourites to be outplayed by Ireland and Afghanistan amongst the smaller teams, Zimbabwe are now being talked about as potential giant-killers when the tournament proper gets under way.

Just as they did against Australia, Zimbabwe lost early wickets and looked to heading towards mediocrity despite Hamilton Masakadza's 33 from 30 balls at the top of the order and a measured 20 from Brendan Taylor. And just as he did against Australia, it was Elton Chigumbura who saved the day with another thrilling display of ball striking which earned him an unbeaten 49 from just 35 balls with a trio of both sixes and fours.

Whereas Craig Ervine assisted Chigumbura in a stand of 114 against Australia, his ally this time around was Charles Coventry who belted an uncompromising 30 from 19 balls with a couple of sixes over mid wicket and long on.

But it still required an inspired bowling performance to defend a score which was probably 20 runs short of 'par' and it duly came - from everyone. Skipper Prosper Utseya enjoyed the stand out analysis of 4/15 from his four overs but Chris Mpofu, given a rare chance with the new ball, was no less impressive with his 2/19 from three overs. Chigumbura completed another brilliant match with a couple of cheap wickets at the death to finish with 3/16 in three overs.

"It was probably an even better performance than the one against Australia because of the clinical way everyone went about their business. To a stranger watching the match, it was impossible to tell which was the defending champion and which was the underdog," said coach Alan Butcher. "We went head to head and won quite comfortably in the end. It's very, very encouraging."

Full scorecard below the cut. The team travel to Guyana on Friday where they play their two group matches against Sri Lanka and New Zealand on Monday and Tuesday.
Zimbabwe 143/7 (20 overs; Chigumbura 49*, Shahid Afridi 4/24), Pakistan 131 (20 overs; Kamran Akmal 37, Utseya 4/15). Zimbabwe win by 12 runs.
[Match report supplied by ZC]

Zimbabwe Surprise Australia in T20 Warm-up Match

Elton Chigumbura's brilliant 76 from just 33 balls helped Zimbabwe beat Australia by one run in a thrilling warm-up match at the ICC Twenty20 World Cup at the Beausejour cricket ground on Tuesday. Having piled up an impressive 173-7 in their 20 overs, Zimbabwe were subjected to the whirlwind excellence of David Warner who almost matched Chigumbura's fireworks with 72 from 51 balls before hauling themselves back into the match and clinching a famous win - the second time they have beaten Australia in a T20 match although this one does not count as 'official'.

Australia galloped to 95-1 in just 13 overs with Warner in his pomp and the game seemed theirs for the taking until senior spinners Ray Price and Prosper Utseya bowled superb back-to-back overs at a combined cost of just 13 runs to push the required rate to 12 per over and heap the pressure back on Australia.

It was left to Chigumbura and Chris Mpofu to defend 33 from the final two overs and the chances of that happening diminished hugely when a chaotic 19th over, bowled by Chigumbura, produced two run outs - both off wides - at a cost of 20 runs. Mpofu's first delivery was carved to the boundary by Brad Haddin leaving the lanky Tuskers seamer to defend just nine runs from the final five deliveries. Remarkably, however, it was the favourites rather than the underdogs who appeared shaky in the final moments and captain Michael Clarke played a bizarre 'flick' at the fifth delivery when just four were required to win and was bowled. Mpofu's next delivery was harshly called wide outside the off stump but his next turn produced a perfect off stump yorker which Haddin could only squeeze to cover for a single leaving a jubilant, fist-pumping Mpofu to be mobbed by his team mates.

"It may not mean too much in the context of the tournament when it gets under way for real, but it means everything to us and to Zimbabwe cricket," said a delighted head coach, Alan Butcher. "Everyone played their part , and I really mean that, although Elton played the biggest part and deserves all the headlines and praise that he gets."

The Mash Eagles skipper smashed five fours and six sixes in his remarkable innings which featured a stand of 114 with Craig Ervine immediately after the innings had slipped to 36-4. Australian all rounder Shane Watson bore the brunt of Chigumbura's attack and was hammered for 20 in his second over after conceding 14 in his first. He didn't bowl again.

"It means a lot us in terms of confidence," Chigumbura said. "Maybe it was only a practise match for Australia but we know they were trying their hardest and we could see that they did not enjoy losing. We need to believe that we are good enough to beat any team and this was a good reminder because results haven't been too good on tour so far."

Ervine's 39 from 30 balls has almost certainly cemented his place in the starting XI for the group matches against Sri Lanka and New Zealand on May 3rd and 4th while stalwart batsmen Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda need to score significantly in the second warm-up match against Pakistan at the same ground on Thursday to secure their places.

Full scorecard below the cut. Zim's next match is their final warm-up game, against current champions Pakistan, on Thursday.
Zimbabwe 173/7 (20 overs; Chigumbura 76, Johnson 4/23), Australia 172/7 (20 overs; Warner 72, Utseya 2/27). Zimbabwe win by 1 run.
[Match report provided by ZC]

World T20 Warm-Up Fixtures Confirmed

Zimbabwe will get two warm-up matches ahead of the World Twenty20, in addition to their matches against West Indies 'A'. Both will be played at Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia - against Australia on 27 April, and Pakistan on 29 April.

Zim Squad Announced for World T20

ZC have announced their 15-man squad for the World Twenty20 in West Indies, with the most notable name on the list being Andy Blignaut, making his return to Zimbabwean colours for the first time since 2005. Chamu Chibhabha and Craig Ervine also get call-ups (older brother Sean is still on a Kolpak contract in England and ineligible for selection if he wants to keep it), while Stuart Matsikenyeri and Shingi Masakadza fail to make the cut after being included on the recently-ended West Indies tour. Tendai Chitara will accompany the squad to play in the warm-up matches against West Indies 'A', but will return to Zimbabwe before the tournament gets underway. Here's the full list:

Prosper Utseya (captain) , Brendan Taylor, Charles Coventry, Andy Blignaut, Hamilton Masakadza, Tatenda Taibu, Greg Lamb, Elton Chigumbura, Vusi Sibanda, Ray Price, Graeme Cremer, Chamu Chibhabha, Chris Mpofu, Timycen Maruma, Craig Ervine.

This will be the first series in charge for new national coach Alan Butcher, and with Zimbabwe having sprung a few surprises at T20 already (including their win against Australia in their last World T20), hopes of springing a few more hopefully won't be misplaced...

2010 World Twenty20 Draw Announced

Zimbabwe will meet New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Group C of next year's World Twenty20, to be held in the West Indies. In the other groups, Australia, Bangladesh and Pakistan meet in Group A; India, South Africa and the first Associate qualifier play in Group B; while West Indies, England and the second Associate qualifier meet in Group D.
CricInfo - Barbados to host World Twenty20 final

World Twenty20 Pull-Out Confirmed

Zimbabwe Cricket has finally confirmed to the ICC that they will withdraw from next year's World Twenty20, after a delay for extra discussions and "clarifications" that would have worried some within the ICC and ECB. The confirmation means that Scotland, who finished 3rd in the World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Belfast earlier this month, will now get a place in the tournament.

One wonders what "clarifications" were needed, so let's make a little prediction: you'll have noticed the ongoing uncertainty over the Champions Trophy, due to be held in Pakistan next month, with several nations expressing concern over the security arrangements for the tournament - England, Australia and South Africa are being particularly vocal on this matter. The ICC does have the power to move the tournament, but a) they'll incur financial penalties if they do so and b) the powerful Asian block are unlikely to want the tourney moved (although Sri Lanka has already been designated as an alternative venue). Technically, if the tournament stays in Pakistan and any of the concerned sides opt not to take part, Bangladesh and Ireland are next in line to fill their spots - but I wonder if Zimbabwe have been promised a slot to ensure their T20 pull-out? The ICC Board is due to hold a teleconference on Sunday to decide the tournament's fate - it'll be interesting to see what decision is reached.
Cricket365 - Zim Officially Withdraw From T20 WC | CricInfo - ICC to hold teleconference on Sunday

ZC Board Fails to Ratify World Twenty20 Withdrawal

The Zimbabwe Cricket board has failed to back Peter Chingoka's compromise deal that would have seen Zimbabwe withdraw from next year's World Twenty20 in exchange for a guarantee that they would still receive their income from the tourney. Speaking to the Sunday News, Chingoka revealed that "clarification" of the deal was required:

"We met as a board to consider our pullout from the ICC World Twenty20. We have been given instructions by our board to clarify certain issues with the ICC."

As a result, Chingoka will now return to Dubai for further discussions with the ICC's David Morgan, Sharad Pawar and Haroon Lorgat. If I was a betting man, I'd say that this is a stalling tactic by ZC, who'll be hoping that a successful conclusion to power-sharing talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC - which had been expected to be completed by now - will render talk of sporting boycotts moot.
Sunday News - ZC delegation to meet top ICC officials in Dubai

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