Brendan Taylor, the Zimbabwe captain, said a lack of match practice will not be an obstacle to success in the World Twenty20, ahead of their first match - the tournament opener against Sri Lanka in Hambantota. Zimbabwe have not played any international cricket since their tour of New Zealand in February, but Taylor said practice matches among the Zimbabwe squad and an unofficial tri-series against South Africa and Bangladesh had been adequate preparation.
"I don't think a lack of matches will hinder us," Taylor said. "We have enough players back home to choose from and have played some competitive matches amongst us. Our training camp was really good. We had good success against South Africa and Bangladesh in an unofficial tri-series in Harare two months ago. So no excuses, we're all in good form. Obviously a bigger stage now, and it's time to come out and perform."
Zimbabwe defeated a South Africa XI that included Richard Levi, Hashim Amla and Lonwabo Tsotsobe among others, to win the tri-series in Harare in June. The hosts won four out of five matches in the tournament, defeating both other teams twice. However, they lost both their World Twenty20 warm up matches, going down to Ireland by 54 runs and to Bangladesh by five wickets.
"It's not ideal, but we were trying out different combinations, so we didn't have our strongest side out there. We were outplayed by Ireland and Bangladesh, but our first game is what's important and we've prepared well for that. There're no excuses."
Taylor said that although Zimbabwe were glad to be playing Sri Lanka in a venue less familiar to the home side than the grounds in Colombo and Pallekele, the conditions would take his own side some getting used to as well.
"We know Sri Lanka probably rather be at the R Premadasa Stadium or in Pallekele," he said. "This is new for all three teams [South Africa, being the third team]. We don't know what really to expect. We know we're on a really big field, and with the wind blowing, and we're not really used to that. It will make it tough to score in certain areas."
"Looking at the wicket it doesn't look like it will turn a lot. But we have three spinners who will bowl well even on wickets that don't turn a lot. Sri Lanka will have very good spinners too, but it's not just down to spin. You have to control 90% of the game to come out on top."
Taylor said Zimbabwe had also prepared specifically for Lasith Malinga's bowling, and were confident of defusing the threat he posed. "We've talked about [Malinga] a lot. He's a threat to anyone, really, but he's only human. He can have a good day or a bad day. He's someone we've monitored closely and tried to replicate certain aspects of his bowling in practice sessions. We've all faced him before so he's not too unfamiliar."