WI v Zim, Group B, Canberra February 23, 2015

Masakadza set for bout against childhood team

Hamilton Masakadza - "The guys are really working hard and are very focused. Even beyond this World Cup, we're expecting a lot of good things to happen" © Getty Images

From the one-street town of Hamilton - Victoria Street is the lucky lane - South Africa went to the metropolis of Melbourne where everything was bigger and brighter. So big and so bright that it blinded them in their biggest match of the pool, against India.

Zimbabwe went to Nelson, where they came out on top in a tense clash against the UAE, took two flights to cross the Tasman, and then drove for half a day to reach another one-street town Canberra - Franklin Street seems to be it - for their third game. Nothing about those two paths seems to cross except for one thing: the size of the outfield that greeted both teams on arrival in Australia.

South Africa got the MCG with dimensions of 171* 146 metres, on the straight and square boundaries. Zimbabwe got the Manuka Oval, even bigger at 179*150.

"It's the biggest ground I've been on so far," Hamilton Masakadza, Zimbabwe's No.3, said. "I've been in New Zealand the whole time, so yeah, it's a bit of a change for us. But it looks a lovely ground. The wicket also looks very good."

For Masakadza, this is a World Cup of firsts - his first tournament in a 14-year international career and his first time in Australia. "The first week in the country has been really good for me. I've really enjoyed it so far."

Now he hopes he can convert that fun to form, which he has been enjoying of late, having scored 80 against South Africa on the back of a century in a warm-up game. Although he has yet to play on the quicker pitches in this country, he has a fair idea of what to expect because of his coach, Dav Whatmore, as well as his own research.

"We watch a lot of cricket on TV and we watch a lot about what's happening around the world, and we always get a lot of information," he said. "The coach got quite a bit of information yesterday when we got here, so we basically have a really good idea what it's going to be like out there."

Masakadza's cricket education has been delivered through the small screen from his childhood, when he used to watch the team he will take on on Tuesday. "Growing up I used to watch a lot of their cricket, and they were pretty much my favourite team," he said. "I really do enjoy playing against them."

His first international century came against them, when he was on debut in July 2001. Masakadza has traveled a long road since then, much longer than Zimbabwe's journey from Nelson to Canberra, and knows that bigger and brighter isn't the solution they are searching for. Masakadza believes his team has a real shot at qualifying for the quarter-finals now, especially if they beat West Indies.

"The guys are really working hard and are very focused. Even beyond this World Cup, we're expecting a lot of good things to happen," Masakadza said. "We've had a few problems in the past with administration and things like that, but I think that's also getting better. The guys are a little bit more focused on the actual cricket and giving sort of the cricket side a little bit more of what they need. I think looking forward and going ahead, I think things are looking up for it."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent