Zim want to make a mark

Tinashe Panyangara of Zimbabwe (centre) celebrates the wicket of Brendon McCullum of the Black Caps during the ICC Cricket World Cup warm up match between New Zealand and Zimbabwe at Lincoln Oval on Monday. — (Photo by John Davidson/Getty Images)

Tinashe Panyangara of Zimbabwe (centre) celebrates the wicket of Brendon McCullum of the Black Caps during the ICC Cricket World Cup warm up match between New Zealand and Zimbabwe at Lincoln Oval on Monday. — (Photo by John Davidson/Getty Images)

HAMILTON. — New Zimbabwe coach Dav Whatmore says the players are fed up with failure and are looking to make a statement of their potential at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Zimbabwe returned deflated from a dismal tour of Bangladesh late last year that saw it lose all three Test matches and whitewashed 5-0 in the one-day series.

That prompted Zimbabwe Cricket to dump former coach Stephen Mangongo and bring in the vastly experienced Whatmore, who led Sri Lanka to the global title in 1996.

He will have had just six weeks to work with the players when the World Cup starts, not long enough to iron out major flaws but time to improve strategy and build confidence.

“I got a sense of genuineness to turn things around, especially from the players,” Whatmore told ESPNcricinfo.

“They seem to think enough is enough and want to do better. They want to move on.

“I am always an optimist but I am going in with my eyes wide open. They can play and they are tough enough. They’re just looking for more of what they need to perform.”

Key to Zimbabwe’s chances will be the form of batsman Brendan Taylor, the most accomplished of its top six and the player it tries to build its innings around.

Captain Elton Chigumbura provides power-hitting down the order and is also useful with the ball.

There has been a recall for spinner Prosper Utseya despite the International Cricket Council banning his off-break ball because of an illegal action, with the player now trying to reinvent himself as a medium-pacer who bowls cutters.

All-rounder Hamilton Masakadza and left-handed middle-order batsman Sean Williams are other players to watch, while the pace attack will be led by Tinashe Panyangara, who is the liveliest of their quicks.

Zimbabwe will expect to beat United Arab Emirates in its pool match and will likely have to overcome Ireland to stand a chance of a place in the quarter-finals.

Victory would still be needed over at least one of South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan or India.

Since the last World Cup in 2011 it recorded home wins against New Zealand, Pakistan and most recently Australia last August, but those matches were played on low and slow conditions that will not be found Down Under.

Its only away victory against a major Test-playing nation since 2003 came in West Indies five years ago.

Key players

Brendan Taylor

The glue that often holds the Zimbabwe batting effort together, Taylor is the most accomplished player in the side and the man around who it build its innings.

More of a stroke-maker, he can score quick runs when needed and can double up as wicket-keeper for the side. He was stripped of the ODI captaincy last year but remains Test skipper.

Hamilton Masakadza

Experience is an understatement as the veteran of 144 one-day internationals is expected to open the batting for Zimbabwe in the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

Most recently, Zimbabwe shocked Sri Lanka in a tournament warm-up match which included Masakadza pummelling 117 not out against the visitors.

Masakadza is a high risk, high reward player and perhaps is best used based on Zimbabwe’s match-up.

Solomon Mire

A real talent of Zimbabwean cricket, Mire, 21, will make his first appearance in a World Cup this month.

A noted all-rounder who can produce with both bat and ball, Mire figures to be the X-factor needed in the Zimbabwean lower-order.

Since making his debut in 2014, Mire averages 26.8 with the bat and 30.9 with the ball. Mire is a player who you can stash in your reserves in case of emergency.

Recent Form: LLLLL

Squad: Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Solomon Mire, Tawanda Mupariwa, Tinashe Panyangara, Brendan Taylor (wk), Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams.

Fixtures

Feb 15: v South Africa, Seddon Park, Hamilton

Feb 19: v United Arab Emirates, Saxton Oval, Nelson

Feb 24: v West Indies, Manuka Oval, Canberra

March 1: v Pakistan, Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane

March 7: v Ireland, Bellerive Oval, Hobart

March 14: v India, Eden Park, Auckland. — Agencies.