Zimbabwe have named a squad for the triangular Twenty20 International series against Pakistan and Australia sans some of their best players – Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza, Graeme Cremer, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine are all out for one reason or another.
That has pushed Hamilton Masakadza, the very experienced batsman, to the captaincy hot seat, and he said of the responsibility, “I'm very excited to be back at the helm and leading the team again.”
Masakadza, 34, has played 52 T20Is over the years, scoring 1460 runs at an average of 29.20. He has also been Zimbabwe captain before, in one Test, nine one-day internationals and five T20Is. Usually, though, he has been appointed captain when the first-choice leader has been absent.
Against Pakistan and Australia, No.1 and No.3 respectively in the ICC T20I Team Rankings, Zimbabwe (No.12) are certain to have it tough, even at home.
“The key is just to try and focus on the job at hand now and go out there and do the job for the team,” Masakadza was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo on the eve of the series opener against Pakistan.
“There's actually been a lot of excitement in the camp, with a few guys coming back that haven't played for a while and a few new guys making their first strides. It's upbeat in the camp.”
Among those coming back are Elton Chigumbura, a former captain who hasn’t played internationally for a year and a half, and Chamu Chibhabha.
So there is experience in the ranks, and with new coach Lalchand Rajput around, there will be some fresh ideas floating around.
“He's a very positive guy, that's the main thing that's really stuck out, though we haven't been with him for very long,” Masakadza said of the former India opening batsman. “He's a positive individual and he's encouraged the guys a lot and got us thinking positively, which is very important for us.”
Chigumbura, the 32-year-old all-rounder, is a well-travelled T20 player, but last played a T20I just over two years ago. His experience, of course, will be useful to Masakadza.
“There's a lot of experience there, and that's something I'll be able to use and bounce ideas off him. He's still got a lot of international cricket left in him, and for me right now it will be important to have guys like that in the changing room. Guys like him and Chamu, that have some experience behind them, it will really help my job to have guys like that around,” said Masakadza.
Zimbabwe start proceedings in the tri-series against Pakistan, with the recent past suggesting that the higher-ranked teams shouldn’t have it too tough putting it across the home side. Masakadza accepted it, but stressed that his team were capable of springing an upset or two.
“When we play against these bigger teams we're always underdogs,” he said.
“It's not the first time that we've been here. The guys just have to understand that in T20s, anything can happen and anyone can turn a game on their day.”
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