Ireland v Zimbabwe, World T20, Group B, Sylhet March 16, 2014

Rising Associate v struggling Full Member


Match Facts

March 17, 2014
Start time 1530 local (0930 GMT)

Big Picture

One is a Full Member and one an Associate. That itself tells the story, and also does not. Zimbabwe are probably the poorest advertisement for a Full Member with their chronic struggles - financial, administrative, cricketing. But they continue to be a Full Member. Ireland are probably the best advertisement for an Associate, banging hard on the door of cricket's small and privileged clique with encouraging performances. But they continue to be an Associate. One can argue in favour of changing the status quo in both cases.

In that sense, this is a clash filled with significance, both symbolic and real, for the wider cricketing world. Symbolic because it pits one still included mostly by virtue of being already in against one still excluded mostly by virtue of having never been allowed in.

Real because Bangladesh v Afghanistan and Ireland v Zimbabwe were widely expected to be the two games that would decide who qualifies for the Super 10 stage of the World T20. Bangladesh could have slipped on the banana peel again, like they did in the Asia Cup, but this time, they crushed it. Both Ireland and Zimbabwe will have probably seen that and drawn their lessons from it.

Zimbabwe have endured the embarrassment of a loss to Hong Kong in the warm-ups but rebounded by downing Ireland's fellow Associate high-fliers Afghanistan. Ireland beat Nepal in their first practice game but were then quelled by Bangladesh. Both sides can claim the upper hand on various counts. Zimbabwe have subsisted on training sessions and practice games for months now, while Ireland have recently defeated West Indies in the Caribbean.

Zimbabwe have been to Bangladesh many more times than Ireland have, and their players have been a regular feature in Bangladeshi leagues such as the BPL and the DPL.

Neither side has played in Sylhet, though, and the brand new Sylhet Divisional Stadium would be a fitting location for those seeking to establish a new order to challenge the old, and the old to resist them.

Form guide

Ireland LWWWL
Zimbabwe LLLWL

Watch out for

Zimbabwe have not played international cricket since September, so there is little to go by in terms of current form. Hamilton Masakadza struck 93 off just 52 balls, including seven sixes, against Afghanistan in the warm-up. He likes to take his time in the one-dayers, but once in the mood, he can cause plenty of damage in quick time. He also has three T20 hundreds to his name.

Paul Stirling may not have a hundred in the format, but by the time he falls, he's often set the match up for Ireland with his uninhibited hitting. To have a strike-rate of close to 140 over 84 games takes some doing, and to add to that, he can also be utilised for some overs of offspin, something that Ireland will likely find handy in Bangladesh.

Team news

William Porterfield spoke highly of the young offspinner Andy McBrine, saying he had impressed over the last six weeks in the West Indies and in the warm-up matches. The combination of the experienced George Dockrell and the rookie McBrine could test Zimbabwe, who have tended to struggle against spin in the past.

Ireland 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Ed Joyce, 4 Andrew Poynter, 5 Gary Wilson (wk), 6 Kevin O'Brien, 7 Max Sorensen, 8 Alex Cusack, 9 Tim Murtagh, 10 George Dockrell, 11 Andy McBrine/Stuart Thompson

Zimbabwe have brought along two legspinners in Tafadzwa Kamungozi and Natsai M'Shangwe. The 26-year old Kamungozi last played for Zimbabwe back in 2006. Sikandar Raza has opened with Hamilton Masakadza in both the warm-up matches. Will Zimbabwe continue with the same pairing or go back to Vusi Sibanda at the top of the order?

Zimbabwe 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Sikandar Raza, 3 Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), 4 Vusi Sibanda, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Malcolm Waller, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Natsai M'Shangwe/Tafadzwa Kamungozi, 10 Tinashe Panyangara, 10 Tendai Chatara/Brian Vitori/Shingi Masakadza

Stats and trivia

  • Ireland beat Zimbabwe in the previous meeting between the two sides, a one-dayer in 2010
  • This will be the first T20 between the two sides
  • Sylhet will become the 208th international cricket venue


"The fact that we haven't played them in a T20 before does not really matter. When you play against each other in international cricket, everyone knows pretty much everyone."
Ireland captain William Porterfield

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on March 17, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    I dont know but I see great gaming of NEPAL winning and losing is on one side still country like NEPAL AFGHANISTAN seems to be playing so good

  • Android on March 17, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    where is the bowler vitori? he is a dangerous seamer.

  • Shafin on March 17, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    All the ZIM top players had been playing regularly in local Bangladesh premiere leagues such as DPL and BPL. So ZIM players are very accustomed to BD cricket condition. ZIM should win this. Sylhet pitch will help the pacers.

  • Android on March 17, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    if Bangladesh and Zimbabwe can keep their status as test nations then why can't Afghanistan and Ireland be given them. they beat them each time. Bangladesh didn't win a game in the Asia cup, but Afghanistan did by beating Bnagladesh. Ireland came first in the qualifying tournament so basically Afghanistan and Ireland should be playing test matches, maybe in the 2-tier system

  • maruf on March 17, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    zim is 10times better than Ireland. thouth t-20 is non predictable formate but zim will win, I hope.

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    Ireland a toughh contender in group b

  • Santhosh on March 17, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    I am a very much cricket fan.. no matter which teams plays if you leave me whole day ill keep on watching cricket.. I am an Indian fan.. i still remember that days where zimbabwe team had great players like Campbell, Stuart Carlise, Heath streak, Andy flower, Grant flower, Henry olanga, Tatenda Taibu, its a gud side. but due to financial the team had lost his grace,, Zimbabwe should bounce back to International the Team has a good chance to qualify for The group stage.. lets hope Australia will be praying zimbabwe should not qualify hahaaha lol, T20 is not about a stars like Dhoni, Afridi, Maxwell, Malinga, or Gayle, With one man and one good over the entire match can be turned.. so lets wait and see which team will qualify for group stage and who will win T20 World Cup.. All the Best to the World Cricket..

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Ireland and Afghanistan both deserve full member status.hope they are able to achieve that and there fate is not like Kenya who performed well and became only associate member to reach World Cup semi final but ignored if that time they were full member they would had flourished.

  • Android on March 17, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    Stirling key to Ireland's success

  • Dummy4 on March 17, 2014, 6:18 GMT

    Zimbabwe has two advantages here-

    1) The are accustomed with the Bangladesh condition 2) The victory of Bangladesh against Afghanistan ,the associate member, will give them confident not to give a single opportunity to Ireland...

    Zimbo should win yet Irish are threat!!

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