Zimbabwe will draw inspiration from their performances in 1ht 1983 and 1999 editions of the World Cup for inspiration © Getty Images
Zimbabwe will draw inspiration from their performances in 1ht 1983 and 1999 editions of the World Cup for inspiration © Getty Images

Harare: The Zimbabwean cricketing history bears a turbulent image. Zimbabwe first experienced success on a major stage in international cricket when they beat Australia in the opening game of the 1983 World Cup by 13 runs. They nearly effected a similar resulted against India in the same tournament, reducing them to 17 for five at one stage before Kapil Dev took over.

They were granted Test status in 1992, and continued to grow throughout the 1990s. During this period, world-class players such as Andy Flower, Heath Streak, Alistair Campbell, Grant Flower, etc. emerged. Zimbabwe had another good outing during the 1999 World Cup, in which they defeated India and South Africa in the group stage and qualified for the Super Sixes.

A period of decline began in the early 2000s as the political situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated, and the cricket administration entered a period of mismanagement, leading to an exodus of a number of talented cricketers. Zimbabwe imposed a self-exile from Test cricket in 2005, which ended during their comeback Test against Bangladesh in 2011.

Zimbabwe Squad in ICC World Cup 2015: Elton Chigumbura (c), Regis Chakabva (wk), Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Solomon Mire, Tawanda Mupariwa, Tinashe Panyangara, Sikandar Raza, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams

Coach: Dav Whatmore

Fixtures — Pool B:

Feb 15: South Africa, Hamilton
Feb 19: United Arab Emirates, Nelson
Feb 24: West Indies, Canberra
March 1: Pakistan, Brisbane
March 7: Ireland, Hobart
March 14: India, Auckland

World Cup record:

1983: Group stage
1987: Group stage
1992: Group stage
1996: Group stage
1999: Super Six stage
2003: Super Six stage
2007: Group stage
2011: Group stage

Key player: Hamilton Masakadza

Hamilton Masakadza was 11 days short of his 18th birthday when he made a century on Test debut for Zimbabwe. His one-day debut followed soon afterwards. Now, at age 31, he is about to play in a World Cup for the first time. Studies, form and injuries have kept him out of three global showpieces.

For some time it seemed Masakadza might never fulfil his early promise but in recent years he has been one of Zimbabwe’s most reliable batsmen. As an opener, he will play a key role for a team that is prone to batting collapses.

His career one-day international average of 28.29 is not especially impressive but in the calendar year of 2014 he averaged 35.46 and had a respectable strike rate of just over 77. His tally included half-centuries against both Australia and South Africa.