West Indies and Zimbabwe look to quarter-finals

Gayle at cricket training

Both West Indies and Zimbabwe lost their opening World Cup games before bouncing back with victory in their second.

West Indies were written off by many after their performance against Ireland, but bounced back with a strong display to thrash Pakistan. They will now fancy a spot in the last eight.

Zimbabwe, meanwhile, put in a reasonable showing against South Africa before being severely tested by UAE prior to ultimately prevailing. They rather optimistically stated an aim of reaching the quarter-finals before the tournament began but have shown, since then, a slight improvement under new coach Dav Whatmore.

Hamilton Masakadza, speaking to ESPNcricinfo, credited the new focus that the team has found as being partly thanks to a revamped administration that has seen former lawyer Wilson Manase and former player Alistair Campbell come to the fore.

"The guys are really working hard and are very focused," he said. "Even beyond this World Cup, we're expecting good things to happen. We've had problems in the past with administration and things like that, but I think that's also getting better."

Strengths and weaknesses:
West Indies struggled at the top against Pakistan before Andre Russell led a brutal late onslaught. Openers Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith are both in poor form, with number three Darren Bravo's absence due to a hamstring injury further weakening the top-order. Gayle, though, was publicly backed by captain Jason Holder in the pre-match press conference who dismissed concerns that his big-name player lacks commitment to the cause.

The lower-order has always been an area of strength for West Indies thanks to their battery of hard-hitting all-rounders. Besides Russell, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy and Holder can all clear the ropes at the death.

Zimbabwe have fitness concerns over Solomon Mire and Chamu Chibhabha and will dearly hope that both pull through, especially the former who gives the side excellent balance. Their strength is the experienced middle-order of Hamilton Masakadza - amazingly in his first World Cup - Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams.

Despite this, the batting can be fragile, while the bowling has looked a little lacking in venom since the international retirements of Kyle Jarvis and Graeme Cremer. The retirement of Ray Price and the remodelling of Prosper Utseya's bowling action has deprived it of experience. It is led by the improving and impressive Tendai Chatara, with fellow opening bowler Tinashe Panyangara perhaps overly reliant on swing and lacking in pace against top teams. The form of skipper Elton Chigumbura is an area of concern. He batted at number eight against UAE and bowled only one over. If he wasn't captain his place may be under threat.

Team news:
West Indies will make an enforced change with the injury to Darren Bravo, picked up during the win over Pakistan. Otherwise, it is likely to be the same eleven.

Probable XI: Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Jonathan Carter, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin (wicket-keeper), Lendl Simmons,  Darren Sammy, Andre Russell, Jason Holder (captain), Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn.

Zimbabwe, as mentioned have injury concerns over Chibhabha, who missed the game against UAE, and Mire. Their other squad players are Regis Chakabva, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Tawanda Mupariwa and Prosper Utseya. Mire's absence is the main concern. If Mupariwa replaced him then the tail would become overly long. Utseya's new style of bowling - described variously as cutters or medium-pace - meanwhile, hasn't yet been tested against top teams. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Utseya could displace Kamungozi and Mupariwa come in for an injured Mire.

Possible XI: Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva/Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (wicket-keeper), Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Elton Chigumbura (captain), Solomon Mire, Tinashe Panyangara, Tendai Chatara, Tafadzwa Kamungozi.

Conditions and timings:
The match will require the Manuka Oval floodlights in Canberra. Masakadza called the sizeable playing area the "biggest ground I've been on so far" so fielding ability will be at a premium. There remains a significant chance of a thunderstorm throughout the day, while it will be relatively cool for Australia, with temperatures peaking at around 23 degrees Celsius.