THE Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket team's campaign at the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup suffered a huge setback yesterday when they fell to giants Australia by seven wickets. Australia captain Jason Sangha won the toss and chose to bowl. The Australians combined superbly to dismiss Zimbabwe for 134 before racing to 85 /1 in 10 overs by the interval and finally reaching their target in less than 19 overs.
Destroyer-in-chief was opening bowler Xavier Bartlett, who claimed the first three wickets and finishing with figures of 3/ 20 from his seven overs. Australia's fielding was a highlight, nine of the dismissals caught or run out, with Lloyd Pope's caught-and-bowled a stand out.
He'll also be pleased with how he recovered after a chastening day against India, in which he dropped two relatively easy catches and went for 22 off his three overs. Yesterday, he took 2 /31 off seven. Zimbabwe will be desperately disappointed not to have built on their strong opening showing and capitalised on the weaknesses that Australia displayed against India.
Steve Mangongo's charges had opened their campaign with a 10-wicket thumping of minnows Papua New Guinea, but now they need to win against on-fire India to secure a quarter-final berth in the Super League.
Australia, who lost their opening match to India by 100 runs, apparently have an easier task in the last match against Papua New Guinea. India currently lead Group B with four points while Australia and Zimbabwe have two points apiece.
It was a bad day in office for Zimbabwe yesterday after they had slumped to 87/ 8 and it was only some tail-end pluck from Robert Chimhinya, who top-scored with 27 and Tinashe Nenhunzi that helped them reach a meagre 134.
Australia, and particularly Jack Edwards, flew off in response. The opener had impressed against India, top-scoring for his side, but had struggled to score fluently. But yesterday he showed he could thrive as well as survive with a 20-ball 40, which contained seven fours and a six. The cameo put Australia well on their way and ensured there were no early jitters.
Australia's other opener Max Bryant made 44 off 27, while the other major contributor was Sangha who made a more sedate 30 before Jonathan Merlo finished the job.
The Australian captain will surely be glad his side responded to a setback in the best possible way, and put themselves back on course for a quarter-final berth.