Zimbabwe are first to arrive for Champions

Published: Sunday, October 1, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi: Absolutely in sync with the reality that qualifying for the main draw of the ICC Champions Trophy was going to be a tough task, Zimbabwe coach Kevin Curran yesterday made it clear that his boys were no pushovers and would do their best to advance to the next stage.

Led by young Prosper Utseya, the new-look Zimbabwe team flew in yesterday to become the first side to arrive for the month-long cricket carnival in the country beginning on October 7.

The Africans, besides defending champions West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are playing in the qualifiers and only two teams will advance into in the main draw.

''We've got a squad with a lot of young players in it. And although they are inexperienced, they have got the required talent to perform in a tournament like this,'' Curran said at a press conference here yesterday.''It's going to be a massive learning curve for the guys.Obviously, with teams like Sri Lanka and West Indies playing against us, it aint gonna be easy but I'm sure we will put a good fight,'' he added.

Curran said his team had a clear edge over Bangladesh and would try to win a match against one of the big two -- Sri Lanka or West Indies.''We beat Bangladesh 3-2 in the one-dayers series recently. There is no reason we can not beat 'em again. Regarding the remaining two matches against Sri Lanka and the West Indies, we would try our best to win atleast one,'' Curran said.

The Africans start their campaign against Brian Lara's men in Ahmedabad on October 8. Curran, fully aware of the magnitude of the task, said they would like to capitalise on the Caribbean team's inconsistency.''When you are up against the likes of Brian Lara and Chris Gayle, you don't stand much of a chance. You've seen it recently when they beat the Australians in Malaysia. However, they haven't been very consistent in the past and we just might have an opening there,'' the coach said.

Meanwhile, the captain said the atmosphere in the camp was charged up and the team was looking forward to perform in India.''The atmosphere in India is always great. Big and hospitable crowds who know their game. We are all looking forward to it,'' said 21-year-old Prosper.

The offie, who had played in India in Duleep Trophy, also underlined that the spin bowling was going to be the key in the tournament.Zimbabwe play a practice match against Gujarat Cricket Association side on October 4.

The Team: P Utseya (captain), CJ Chibhabha, E Chigumbura, T Duffin, AJ Ireland, T Kamungozi, H Masakadza, S Matsikenyeri, T Mupariwa, EC Rainsford, HP Rinke, V Sibanda, GM Strydom, BRM Taylor (Wk).

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