Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura is optimistic his team can carry the good form they showed during the warm-up matches into their opening World Cup Pool B tie against South Africa here tomorrow.
The 28-year-old said good showings in the rained-off first warm-up game against New Zealand—where they reduced the co-hosts to 157 for seven—and then a shock seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka had bolstered Zimbabwe’s morale.
“It (the warm-up performances) gives us a lot of confidence,” said Chigumbura on Saturday. “It gives us a lot of the belief that we do need as a team, that it’s possible to beat a big team, and obvious, looking at the guys who performed, our main batters, which is a good sign.”
Zimbabwe’s two key batsmen were both in the runs against Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions and losing finalists at the last two World Cups, with Hamilton Masakadza hitting a brilliant unbeaten hundred and Brendon Taylor making 63.
“We’re looking forward to the main games now, and hopefully the guys who performed well will carry on with their form and hopefully finish on the better side tomorrow,” Chigumbura added.
Zimbabwe were crushed 5-0 in Bangladesh in November last year, a defeat which led them to hire World Cup-winning coach Dav Whatmore.
Chigumbura, who is in his second stint as one-day captain, revealed that Whatmore had wrought a significant change in the team’s outlook.
“He’s an experienced coach,” said Chigumbura of the former Australian batsman who guided Sri Lanka to World Cup glory in 1996 and then took Bangladesh to an upset win over India for a place in the Super Eights at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.
“Guys are more comfortable dealing with him. He’s bringing lots of experience and different tactics and looking at the games that we played, the two games that we played, you can tell that we’re heading in the right direction.”
However, the Zimbabwe captain said facing South Africa would be a tough opening contest for his side.
“Obviously, playing a big team is challenging, but at the same time for us, it’s also a good opportunity to express ourselves and try and play our best cricket and if we stick to our game plans and our processes right, at the end of the day it’s about the team that plays the best cricket on the day,” said Chigumbura.