Zimbabwe

  • Last Updated: September 19 2012, 11:45 BST

We take a look at Zimbabwe's squad, key players and hopes at the ICC World Twenty20.

Taylor: Captain, keeper, star batsman

Group C Fixtures:
September 18: Sri Lanka at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota, 1500 BST
September 20: South Africa at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota, 1500 BST

Overview: After a busy year back in the Test fold in 2011, Zimbabwe are in the middle of a barren 2012 in which they have not played a competitive fixture since February. Nevertheless they have made the most of what action they have seen, winning an unofficial Twenty20 tri-series in which they trumped a South African side missing their senior players.

Zimbabwe's batsmen suggested in that series that they were finally acclimatising to Twenty20 cricket, but the record books still show that they have lost their last 12 official internationals in this format. Their current rating of 47 in the ICC rankings puts them below Ireland, Afghanistan, the Netherlands and Scotland, although the last three do not feature on the official table because they have played fewer than eight matches in the last two years.

Nevertheless they remain capable of causing an upset, even if the big nations' regard for the Twenty20 format has moved on since their famous victory over Australia in the inaugural World Twenty20 event. Brendan Taylor was the hero on that day, and Zimbabwe will require plenty of heroics from their captain if they are to beat either Sri Lanka or South Africa.

Strengths: Although the team as a whole has improved since the 2010 edition of this competition, it's the spin department that remains its strongest component. Ray Price, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer should all play - particularly as Zimbabwe's seamers tend to be inconsistent and the pitches should suit slow bowling. Price has an excellent record in limited-overs cricket - he averages 27 in T20Is with an economy rate of a run a ball - and was a really tricky customer at the World Cup last year, when Zimbabwe played two games in Sri Lanka. Expect him to open the bowling from one end, as he did in the 50-over World Cup. In Taylor, Zimbabwe also have a world-class batsman who can win a game almost single-handedly. He has been forced to take on the wicketkeeping duties in the wake of Tatenda Taibu's retirement, but has shown that responsibility tends to bring the best out of him.

Weaknesses: Taylor can score at a quick rate through conventional strokeplay, but Zimbabwe don't have anyone else in the middle order who is capable of a whirlwind 70 or 80. Zimbabwe's pacemen tend to blow hot and cold - although Chris Mpofu, Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori are all capable of conceding 20-odd in a match, they're just as likely to go for 40-odd in their next outing. If Zimbabwe are going to win a game in their group, they'll have to have one of those days when everyone comes off.

Six-hitter: Brendan Taylor. So much rests on Taylor for Zimbabwe. Captain, keeper and his side's best batsman, he is the only Zimbabwean to average over 30 from a significant T20I career and has a decent record when it comes to performing on the biggest stage. Zimbabwe will be looking to Taylor to bat through the innings while the likes of Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura and Craig Ervine - all gifted strokemakers but so far less capable of producing consistent results - play around the skipper.

One to watch Craig Ervine. His selection for the final squad raised a few eyebrows, but he appears to have found form again after a 2011 in which he fell out of favour. A classy left-hander who, on his day, can look like Zimbabwe's most talented batsman, it will be interesting to see how he gets on now that he's back in the side. Rookie fast bowler Richard Muzhange, who is yet to play an official international, is also one to keep an eye on in Sri Lanka.

Squad: Brendan Taylor (capt, wk), Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Chris Mpofu, Forster Mutizwa, Richard Muzhange, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller.