Zimbabwe need to bounce back

AFTER Zimbabwe’s missed opportunity against Pakistan where the national cricket team loosened up with the bat after taking a firm grip of the match against Pakistan with the ball in their World Cup Group B clash, Davenell “Dav” Whatmore’s men have not lost hope for a quarterfinal berth ahead of their next match against Ireland on Saturday.

KEVIN MAPASURE in HOBART, AUSTRALIA

If Zimbabwe win that match, that alone would not be enough as they still have to beat India in Auckland in their last match to stand a chance.

Middle order batsman Brendan Taylor described the defeat to Pakistan as a missed opportunity, but acknowledged they struggled against Mohammad Irfan’s pace and bounce on the Gabba wicket on Sunday.

We certainly did target this match and we felt that half the job was done particularly well, restricting them to 235,” Taylor said.

“But they came out the first 15 overs and made it pretty difficult for us and bowled some heavy balls, and it was difficult to score, but it needed a partnership, and unfortunately 50s or 30 partnerships, they’re not going to get you over the line. It was extremely difficult to comprehend this loss.”

While acknowledging the good bowling display by Pakistan, the right hand batsman said that Zimbabwe contributed to their downfall with some soft dismissals and failure to string meaningful partnerships, with batsmen perishing just when they had got themselves into the match.

“We found ways to get out at crucial periods, some soft dismissals, as well. That’s been a major downfall for us in the last four games, crucial periods when batters have needed to get through those initial periods, and finding ways to get out. It’s not helping the team scores, but that’s the way it goes, I guess.”

He, however, felt India could be there for the taking in that final group match and they would be targeting what would be a major upset.

“There is definitely a little more added pressure now, but Ireland are playing some good cricket, and we feel we are 80% there.

“I think if we can just close that gap a little bit more, I think we’re heading in the right direction for a good win against Ireland, and if we can do that, India have been on the road for a long time.

“Yes, they’re a fantastic cricketing unit, but we saw what happened at Eden Park the other day, and if we play some good cricket, which we know we could do, there’s no reason why we can’t have that self-belief that we can win.”

The immediate task now if for Zimbabwe to get their World Cup campaign back on track with a win against Ireland who fancy their chances having dispatched West Indies and United Arab Emirates.

The Zimbabwe camp is still sweating on the fitness of captain Elton Chigumbura who by yesterday was still being assessed.

Elton Chigumbura

Elton Chigumbura

He is set to go for a scan today to ascertain the extent of the injury having struggled with a suspected muscle tear.

Taylor said Chigumbura was an important cog in the team and felt Zimbabwe would have had a better chance of winning against Pakistan had the all-rounder been fully fit.

Chigumbura managed 35 runs from 60 deliveries, but he could not steer Zimbabwe home. During his batting spell he avoided quick singles and what should have been twos could only be singles.

Zimbabwe had done some good work in the field so much so that even after conceding 73 runs in the last ten overs they still had a chasable 236 victory target.

Yet they wasted that chance, failing to deal with the pace of Irfan and Wahab Raiz, having encountered a bouncy track they are not accustomed to.

Zimbabwe won many admirers with performances against South Africa and the West Indies where they made some good work in chasing totals above 300 despite falling short in the end.

A lot was expected of their batting in the last match and with five days before their Ireland clash, focus will be on trying to get all fronts firing.

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