Young Zimbabwe eye knockout place

Johannesburg, Feb 6 (AFP) Zimbabwe''s young cricketerswill seek to show during the World Cup that they are makingprogress in their bid to rejoin the sport''s elite nations.

They also have an opportunity to reach the second roundof the tournament for the third time in their history afterbeing drawn with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sri Lanka,Pakistan and Kenya in the group stage.

With four teams from the mini-league qualifying for thequarter-finals they will need to beat outsiders Canada andKenya as well as at least one of the Test nations.

Selection convener Alistair Campbell said afterannouncing Zimbabwe''s World Cup squad that he felt the teamhad a good draw.

"We would look to perhaps target New Zealand as they arepretty unpredictable, as can be Pakistan," he said.

"So, if we play to our ability, there is every chancethings could go our way to get into the next round."

Campbell''s ambition is not entirely unrealistic becauseZimbabwe have beaten the West Indies, India, Sri Lanka andBangladesh in the past year -- although the triumphs have beenisolated and they were unable to win any of the series inwhich they occurred.

But Zimbabwe cricket has advanced in the past two yearsafter going through a chaotic period during which many of theleading players rebelled against the administration,culminating in the country voluntarily withdrawing from Testcricket five years ago.

Some who were in dispute with Zimbabwe Cricket, includingCampbell, former captain Heath Streak and Grant Flower, areinvolved, together with English coach Alan Butcher, inpreparing the current squad for the World Cup and, they hope,a return to Test cricket before the end of 2011.

Former West Indian star Brian Lara is a battingconsultant.

Elton Chigumbura leads a young team, in which nine of the15 players are 25 or younger and only one, left-arm spinnerRay Price, is over 30.

They will be trying to emulate the performances of the1999 and 2003 teams, who both advanced to what was then aSuper Six stage.

The current side''s strength is in spin bowling, wherePrice, off-spinner Prosper Utseya and leg-spinner GraemeCremer should be effective in sub-continental conditions, andfielding.

The fast bowling is weak and the batting fragile,although Brendan Taylor has been in good form at the top ofthe order. (AFP) SHN

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