NELSON – AFTER a stellar performance albeit on a losing cause against South Africa on Sunday, Zimbabwe will be overwhelming favourites to register first win of the 2015 Cricket World Cup when they take on minnows United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the Saxton Oval in Nelson, New Zealand, tomorrow.
Zimbabwe will be desperate for a convincing win against UAE to keep their Super Eight hopes alive after the second associate member country in Pool B – Ireland – started their campaign with a sensational win over the West Indies at the same ground on Monday.
The African side will be baking on their bowling line-up to restrict the UAE batsmen after showing some signs of promise in the initial stages of their match against South Africa.
The seam bowling Tinashe Panyangara and Tendai Chatara had South Africa four down with just 83 runs on the board inside 20 overs before a record breaking partnership by David Miller and JP Duminy saved the Proteas.
Zimbabwe will look to their spin department where Tafadzwa Kamungozi and Sean Williams emerged with respectable figures from the previous match.
Elton Chigumbura’s team will be confident with bat in hand having made a decent fight in their pursuit of South Africa’s target of 339 for four in Hamilton on Sunday.
Although they were eventually bowled out 62 runs short of what would have been a huge upset against one of the tournament favourites, coach Davenell “Dav” Whatmore would be pleased by the form of Hamilton Masakadza, Chamu Chibhabha and Brendan Taylor.
Chigumbura said he was particularly impressed by Masakadza’s form after his fighting knock of 80 runs off 74 balls.
“To have a guy who is senior to be performing the way he’s doing, it just rubs off to the rest of the players. So I hope we’ll carry that form on, and it’s always good to see him scoring around. He’s a guy who is a leader on our team. Hopefully if he gets another chance, he could finish the games. Unfortunately, today he didn’t finish off the game, but I thought he played well. His inning was a match-changing one, so hopefully he can carry on the form he’s in,” he said.
Meanwhile, UAE are hoping a strong batting performance at the picturesque Saxton Oval would get them off to a dream start in the 2015 World Cup by beating Zimbabwe.
UAE coach Aaqib Javed said the most crucial aspect of the match would be batting.
“Given the playing conditions, I think the matches in this World Cup are heavily loaded in favour of the batsmen. With the field restrictions, and with the two new balls being used, your only chance as a bowling unit is to keep on attacking, but all you need is a couple of batsmen to get set, and as we have seen in the first few matches, a score of 300 is very much gettable, and in fact, it is important that you score that much,” Javed said.
“I think we have a very good batting line-up and most of the players are looking in good form. Obviously, a lot will depend on Khurram Khan, and I am glad he is in such a good form.”
The other area where both teams will jostle for superiority is fielding, so crucial given how fast the outfield at Nelson is, and the smallish boundaries.
– Sports Reporter/Agencies