THE highflying Zimbabwe cricket team is hoping to continue with its dream ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign and possibly reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time.
Zimbabwe has already scored a first after reaching the Super 12 stage after a nervy five wicket victory over Scotland and finishing top of Group B which also included West Indies and Ireland, on Friday.
Sikandar Raza, who is currently enjoying a form of his life, put up another man of the match performance, his sixth in the format this year alone, as the Chevrons chased down a 133 target with nine balls to spare.
Giants South Africa are the Chevrons’ next hurdle at the Bellerive Oval tomorrow while the team will also play Pakistan, Bangladesh, Netherlands and India at this stage.
Zimbabwe have been brilliant in T20 cricket since the arrival of former captain Dave Houghton as head coach back in June and the team has won nine of the 11 matches they have played since then.
Houghton revealed that the target is to cause some major upsets at the tournament and possibly reach the semis.
“I'm happy to talk about our ambitions. I don't want to be unrealistic with our ambitions. Obviously everybody would sit there and say we want to win it. We want to cause some damage. If we could take home a couple of big scalps as well, that would be great. If we could get into the semifinals, even better, but I'm just looking at one game at a time now,” he said during a media conference after the team qualified for the Super 12 stage on Friday.
“Obviously we're over the moon. When I took over in June or so for the qualifiers in Bulawayo, the biggest and main objective was to get here. We got ahead and won five of those games, and they were as pressurised as any game because each game was like a cup final.
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“I did say to the guys when we left home, it's nice we qualified to get here, but that's not our main objective. Our main objective is to get through and then cause as much damage in the next trials as we can,” Houghton added.
After winning his second man of the match award at the World Cup following a brisk 40 runs in 23 balls and figures of 1 for 20 with the ball, Raza has scored the most runs, 136 in three matches, at the championship.
Bowler Blessing Muzarabani is third on the list of bowlers with the most wickets having snared six so far in the tournament.
Raza is expected to carry the team going forward and Houghton was full of praise for the allrounder.
“Look, Raza is a fantastic cricketer, and he likes to be on a big stage to show people what a fantastic cricketer he is. I hope a lot of people around the world in franchise tournaments are looking because he's a fantastic T20 cricketer.
“I think he wishes he was three or four years younger so he could have more fun, but I can tell you, the way he's playing at the moment, we'll keep him going as long as he wants,” he said.
Captain was pivotal in Zimbabwe’s win against Scotland with a patient 58 run knock after opening the bat with out of sorts Regis Chakabva who has scored just 17 runs in the tournament so far.
There have been some positive performances by some players in the tournament so far notably Luke Jongwe who has surprisingly contributed with the bat.
Tendai Chatara has been impressive with ball in hand with four wickets to his cricket as well as Richard Ngarava who also has the same number of wickets.
Rising star Wessley Madhevere has had starts with the bat and has failed to convert them into big scores but his 91 runs make him the country’s second best batsman at the moment.