Lack of consistency may send Zim packing

HARARE - Looking at Zimbabwe’s two warm-up matches ahead of today’s World Twenty20 opener against Sri Lanka, there is very little to be excited about after Ireland and Bangladesh made short work of a side that clearly seems to have thoughts other than cricket on their minds.

Ireland’s 54-run win was then followed by an equally demoralising five-wicket loss against Bangladesh, which would have left the players desperately low on confidence and the coaching staff worried and frustrated.

The reason that was given for Zimbabwe’s bad performance against Ireland was that the weather was very hot and humid and that the wicket was low and slow.

The weather conditions were most certainly trying and in all fairness. Zimbabwe had only arrived in Sri Lanka a day before the match which meant that acclimatisation as well as jet lag would have taken a lot out of the players.

But if the wicket was low and slow, why were Ireland able to make a more than respectable total when they made 181 runs in their 20 overs?

The fact that no less than four batsmen were dismissed without scoring then put considerable pressure on the middle order, who were unable to respond.

After such a heavy loss, one certainly hopes that the players would have looked back on where they had gone wrong and that they would have had every intention in correcting their mistakes in their second game against Bangladesh.

But it was not to be as another poor performance by the batsmen saw them struggle to 130, which was never going to be enough.

Another factor that may possibly go against Zimbabwe is the fact that the warm-up matches were played during the day while the crucial opening match will be played under lights, which can cast doubt in the visiting captain’s mind, so it is just as well that Brendan Taylor recently played in the Sri Lankan Premier League.

The big question mark at the moment is weather the coaching staff will still opt to play Elton Chigumbura despite his continued run of low scores as well as his lack of form with the ball, which in all honesty, makes him a liability in the team.

Another concern is the fact that for some period of time, the top three batsmen have done all the hard work but when they have failed, the middle and lower order have let the side down very badly, and on the odd occasion when one of the lower order batsmen has made runs, he has faced far too many balls which puts the game beyond Zimbabwe pretty much with immediate effect.

Although it looks like Brendan Taylor and his men have been sent on a mission impossible, we have to remember that the playing field is a bit more level when playing Twenty20 cricket and that upsets in this version happen on a regular basis in big tournaments such as Twenty20 World Cups.  

After all, Zimbabwe were the very first team to cause an upset when they beat Australia in the inaugural tournament!

But the most memorable upset was probably when the Netherlands beat England in their backyard in 2009 thanks to a brilliant all-round team performance which is exactly what Zimbabwe will have to do if they have any ambitions of progressing to the Super Eights. - Dean du Plessis

*The match starts at 4pm local time.

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