New Zealand resume hostilities with Zimbabwe
Match FactsTuesday, May 4, Providence
Start time 0930 (1330 GMT)
The Big PictureNew Zealand are on a high after their penultimate-ball win on Friday and can seal their spot in the final eight even with a tight loss to Zimbabwe. Rain left Zimbabwe chasing 44 off five overs in their opening game against Sri Lanka and they were only able to manage 29, which hurt their net run-rate.
Zimbabwe were the form team in the warm-up matches, beating Australia and Pakistan, but they now need a big win over an in-form team to have a chance of progressing. The weather leaves them in a desperate state which is unfortunate given the promising signs they displayed last week. While Zimbabwe are worried, Nathan McCullum's six to seal the match against Sri Lanka provided a huge dose of confidence for the New Zealanders, who are in the rare position of having so many of their main men injury free.
This contest has added spice due to New Zealand's continued reluctance to tour Zimbabwe on safety, security and political grounds. The teams last played in any format during a one-day series in Harare in 2005.
Form guide (most recent first)New Zealand WTLWL
Watch out for...
Jacob Oram was quiet in the lead-up to the tournament after being struck by more untimely injuries, but he has roared back over the past week. While Nathan McCullum gained the glory against Sri Lanka, it was Oram's two sixes off Ajantha Mendis in the 17th over that raced his team forward. He only stayed for six balls but his 15 runs were essential to the cause, and built on his impressive 46 in the warm-up with West Indies.
Elton Chigumbura was a late arrival in the West Indies, having not boarded the plane with the rest of the team. Zimbabwe are pleased he eventually turned up as his striking is vital to the team posting competitive scores, as shown by his 76 against Australia and 49 against Pakistan in the warm-up games. "Against Australia and Pakistan he struck the ball brilliantly," the coach Alan Butcher said. "He could be a star of the tournament if we do manage to sneak a win and progress."
Meddling with a winning outfit is risky and New Zealand are unlikely to make any changes. "We've named the same 12 so the only change possibly could be Kyle Mills coming in," the captain Daniel Vettori said. "But I'd suggest we'd probably go in with the same 11."
New Zealand (probable) 1 Brendon McCullum, 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Daniel Vettori (capt), 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Shane Bond.
The weather limited Zimbabwe so much in the first game that it will be hard to judge whether anything should change, at least with their batting. Back-to-back matches may force some alterations if any of the faster bowlers struggle in the morning.
Zimbabwe (probable) 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Tatendu Taibu (wk), 3 Brendon Taylor, 4 Craig Ervine, 5 Charles Coventry, 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Greg Lamb, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Prosper Utseya (capt), 10 Ray Price, 11 Chris Mpofu.
Pitch and conditionsThe lack of speed and bounce is more of a worry for the New Zealanders than their opponents and they have been trying to work out a plan to deal with the slow bowlers, who are a particular threat. "We've got a bit of work to do with spin and with playing the spin," the coach Mark Greatbatch said. "Zimbabwe have got plenty of that." However, Vettori believes the surfaces may be improving as the tournament wears on: "The wicket today has got better and better, so we look forward to hopefully a high-scoring game." Unfortunately more storms are predicted for match day, along with a top of 30C.
Stats and trivia
- This is the first Twenty20 between the teams, mainly because Zimbabwe have played only nine of them. That makes them the second-most inexperienced side in the competition behind Afghanistan
- Elton Chigumbura, Hamilton Masakadza and Prosper Utseya have played in every match
- Brendon McCullum's 38 sixes are the equal most in Twenty20 internationals, the same number as Yuvraj Singh
- Zimbabwe's six ducks in an innings against West Indies in February equalled the mark set by Kenya in 2007
Quotes"Zimbabwe are not going to be easy, they've just beaten Australia and Pakistan in warm-up games. There are no easy games here."
Mark Greatbatch, New Zealand's coach
"Spinners have done exceptionally well in Twenty20 all over the world. Taking pace off the ball is a vital tactic."
Alan Butcher, the Zimbabwe coach, expects his slower bowlers to play key roles© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.