Zimbabwe look to tighten disciplines against Scotland
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Start time 1500 local (0930GMT)
The cruelty of the World T20 qualifying phase is that every game is crucial and Scotland's key moment may already have come and gone. Their defeat to Afghanistan meant their hopes of progressing now depend on themselves and other results. So for them, there has to be a bigger picture. And there is. Scotland have played 19 matches in six global limited-overs tournaments but are yet to win a game.
Zimbabwe will be pleased to hear that because they need another victory before facing the group's strongest team, Afghanistan, in what they hope will be a showdown for a place in the main draw. Zimbabwe have already recorded one win but it was achieved in untidy fashion. Their batsmen squandered starts, their bowlers lost their lines and they were occasionally comical in the field. They did not look like the only Full Member in the group and would want to tighten up on the basics.
Scotland have already faced Afghanistan and found that their bowlers struggled to contain aggressive batting but they were able to respond with runs themselves. They got off to a speedy start before the middle order collapsed and fizzled out, and given the nature of Zimbabwe's attack that concentrates on a squeeze upfront rather than at the end, Scotland may eye an opportunity to record a first victory.
(last five completed games most recent first)
In the spotlight
Although a team will take a win no matter how messy in a major tournament, Zimbabwe's disciplines need to improve if they are to sustain hopes of playing in the main draw. The opening match saw three run-outs, three batsmen holing out, two dropped catches and several misfields. They got away with it once but will not want to risk slipping up as the qualifiers continue.
Calum MacLeod was identified by Paul Collingwood as someone who has played a lot of high-pressure cricket, presumably at Warwickshire, and would know how to handle tough situations but his recent scores don't suggest that. MacLeod has not got past 20 in his last 12 T20Is but has a century in the format at domestic level and will know he is due some runs.
Zimbabwe may want to add a more attacking spinner to their arsenal but with Graeme Cremer out injured, their only other option is Tendai Chisoro, who went wicketless in the warm-ups against West Indies and HPCA XI. If they are after a change in the batting line-up, they could make space for Peter Moor or Chamu Chibhabha but only by leaving someone like Sikandar Raza or Malcolm Waller out.
Zimbabwe: (probable) 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 4 Sean Williams, 5 Sikandar Raza, 6 Malcolm Waller, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Donald Tiripano, 9 Wellington Masakadza, 10 Tinashe Panyangara, 11 Tendai Chatara
Scotland's pace attack adjusted well to very their pace and slow Afghanistan briefly on Tuesday, and they may also think of bringing in another spinner considering the Nagpur pitch. Allrounder Con de Lange, who bowls left-arm spin, could complement the 19-year-old legspinner Mark Watt.
Scotland: (probable) 1 George Munsey, 2 Kyle Coetzer, 3 Calum MacLeod, 4 Matt Machan, 5 Richie Berrington, 6 Preston Mommsen (capt), 7 Matthew Cross (wk), 8 Josh Davey, 9 Safyaan Sharif, 10 Mark Watt, 11 Alasdair Evans
Pitch and conditions
The Nagpur surface proved difficult to score on freely on the first day and it is expected to continue challenging batsmen. Although it did not take much turn, taking pace off the ball was effective for the seamers and batsmen will have to spend time building an innings. The mercury is only headed in one direction - up - with temperatures expected hotter on Thursday compared to Tuesday. Both teams will hope the crowd numbers balloon like that too.
Stats and trivia
- The margins of victory in both Zimbabwe and Scotland's opening match was 14 runs. Zimbabwe beat Hong Kong but Scotland lost to Afghanistan.
- Zimbabwe lost the first four T20s they played this year but have won the last three.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent