Zimbabwe have not had much success over the past one year, except the famous ODI victory against Australia in September © Getty Images
Zimbabwe have not had much success over the past one year, except the famous ODI victory against Australia in September © Getty Images

Zimbabwe announced the squad for the ICC World Cup 2015. The selectors have certainly made a few surprising calls. Given a horrid 2014, the African nation is not likely to go through to the later stages, but will look to put up a respectable performance and try to pull off an upset or two. Rishad D’Souza wonders if the squad of 15 possesses the fire for that.

Zimbabwe Cricket announced their World Cup squad on January 7, a month and a week before the marquee tournament in Australia and New Zealand. They sprung up a few surprises as Brian Vitori and Vusimuzi Sibanda failed to make the cut (though they were mentioned in a list of ‘non-travelling reserves’ alongside John Nyumbu, Malcolm Waller, Cephas Zhuwao).

Dav Whatmore, recently drafted in as Zimbabwe coach, may have had an influence in the selection process. Whatmore claimed that he had spoken to the players who did not make the squad, conveying that they would remain part of future plans. “I’ve personally spoken to all those who missed out and assured them that they are still part of the future,” he said.

Going into the World Cup, Zimbabwe barely stands a chance of going all the way, keeping in mind their disastrous performances last year. They had started their year with a four-match One-Day International (ODI) series against Afghanistan. They even won the first two matches of the series, but lost their way from there and went on to lose the rest.

They lost all ODIs against South Africa, but pulled off an upset by beating Australia in a triangular tournament. However, they reached another low when they were whitewashed 0-5 by Bangladesh (after being whitewashed 0-3 in the Test series).

With the fresh-look team, however, they will hope to pull off an upset or two though. Elton Chigumbura will lead the side. Though he has been banned from bowling off-breaks for a suspect action, Prosper Utseya is in the squad for his medium-paced bowling and lower-order batting.

Batting will be an issue for Zimbabwe. Hamilton Masakadza and Sikandar Raza, the first-choice openers, average in the high 20s. Craig Ervine averages the highest in the team with a mere 35.10. Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams are the only others who average above 30.

When it comes to bowling, they pass off as a much more formidable side but not adequately enough to eclipse the fragile batting line-up. Zimbabwe will have to punch way above their belts to make a mark in the global event.

Zimbabwe Squad for World Cup:

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

(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RishadDsouza on Twitter)