24 June 2012

Zimbabwe: Promising World Cup for the Country

Photo: M. Tawsif Salam/Wikipedia
Zimbabwean Players Take The Drinks Break

Roll back four and a half years ago to the rainy day in a Group B encounter of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty20 World Cup against the mighty Australia at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town. Zimbabwe stunned the whole world when they defeated their fancied opponents by five wickets in the inaugural finals of the shortest version of the game.

Fast forward that to last Wednesday at the Harare Sports Club; again Zimbabwe shocked big guns South Africa to win the tussle against a team that featured heavyweight batsman Hashim Amla. Remarkable isn't it?

Four and half years ago, the hero of the battle against the Aussies was Brendan Taylor, who anchored Zimbabwe's response to Australia's 138 with an unbeaten 60 off 45 balls.

Last Wednesday, man-of-the-match seamer Christopher Mpofu roared with three wickets for just 20 runs in four overs while veterans Hamilton Masakadza and Vusumuzi Sibanda built the ideal foundation for the momentous win with half centuries each.

Mpofu received compliments from leg spinner Graeme Cremer, who also claimed three wickets against the Proteas while newcomer Richard Muzhange had a say in the same match with two wickets.

The two victories against the two heavy-duties of cricket, to me, are significant in that they could have been used as the turning point by Zimbabwe, especially in building confidence on the international stage. The success should be used as a springboard to greatness.

But all hope is not lost after their midweek defeat of the Proteas. This is the kind of achievement which must create a sense of competitiveness among the players and belief that they can hold their own against the best.

Never mind what the current series result after the final today, the fact that the team can execute an excellent all-round performance against the big guns is a welcome development as we head for the Twenty20 World Cup to be hosted by Sri Lanka in September.

I was particularly impressed by Masakadza, who is now coming to the party after notching three half centuries in successive matches. The fact that experienced players are playing consistently is a step in the right direction for the up-coming cricketers.

Coach Alan Butcher must take solace in this development and build his World Cup strategies around that. With the same spirit displayed last Wednesday, I foresee the team shocking their opponents on the big stage in September.

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