ZIMBABWE – The Zimbabwe national cricket team, the Chevrons, received a rousing send off Friday, as they left the country for the 2016 International Cricket Council’s T20 World Cup, in India.
Although the tournament starts almost two week later, on March 8, the team left early to play a series of preparatory matches as well as to acclimatize to the conditions which are far much different from this part of the world.
Addressing the team’s captain, Hamilton Masakadza and the team, Zimbabwe Cricket president Tawengwa Mukuhlani warned the players that his association would not entertain any excuses for a poor performance at the global sporting festival.
“Hamilton and your boys. Time has now come. You are like any other team in terms of talent. So there cannot be any excuses for failure. Go out there and bring home that silverware,” said Mukuhlani.
The country’s Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane echoed the warning, telling players that their followers will not take lightly any failure on the part of the Chevrons.
“I would like the team to appreciate that the whole of Zimbabwe is behind them,” assured Hlongwane. “There would not be serious and concerned fans if they do not express their displeasure should Zimbabwe fail.”
Zimbabwe is in the same qualifying group with Scotland, Hong Kong, and Afghanistan.
Should the Chevrons top this group the team will then join the likes of South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, and England in the second round.
Team manager, Christian Chitsike said their aim is to first get out of their qualifying group before they can make promises.
“Our target is mainly to get out of our group and get to the tournament proper. That is our main target,” said Chitsike.
Team captain Hamilton Masakadza also sang the same tune of second round qualification, adding he was confident the team would achieve that feat.
“The first target is to get through that qualifying stage and take it from there,” Masakadza said.
Masakadza dismissed Hong Kong and Scotland as challengers, saying they would like to prove a point by overcoming bitter rivals Afghanistan.
“We need to get past Afghanistan who have been very difficult for us. We are looking more at that,” said Masakadza.
According to the fixture released by the International Cricket Council, after Scotland, Zimbabwe will play on March 10 before rounding off their group matches with a game against Afghanistan on March 12.
Sceptics, however, are of the opinion that the Chevrons will be lucky to come out of that qualifying stage.