HARARE – Despite the defeat to the West Indies on Tuesday, Zimbabwe cricket fans have applauded the team’s effort in the 2015 World Cup so far.
Zimbabwe could not withstand the West Indies acceleration of scoring late in their innings as Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels piled on a one-day record stand of 372 to take the game away from them on Tuesday.
The Windies finished with 289 off 44.3 overs to lose by 73 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method after a short rain interruption while Gayle scored a new world record innings of 215.
After that loss, Zimbabwe now finds themselves in fifth place in the pool with two points from three matches.
Elton Chigumbura’s men now have a tough task of reaching the Super Eight stage of the competition with remaining pool matches against Ireland, India and Pakistan.
“On the whole, I was pleased with our performance as a team. Unlike sides of yesteryear, faced with the daunting task of chasing 360, we didn’t capitulate. The guys kept going at the score with boyish bravado, Taylor, Williams and Evans showing great fight with the bat,” said former First Class cricketer Tafadzwa Chihota.
“We are playing very decent cricket but again, our death bowling let us down. Just as we did in the South Africa match, we started very well with the ball, Samuels and Gayle didn’t run away with the game initially.
“However, as the game wore on and they got their eyes in, we weren’t able to contain them. We simply fail to get the ball in the right areas when we are under attack.
“If we are to get any results in the upcoming matches, we are going to have to improve on our bowling in the last 10 overs. The loss of Solomon Mire and Chibhabha was telling as well, Chibhabha has been in a rich vein of form and we needed to get off to a good start. Mire’s overs were missed in the bowling department and Elton ended up bowling more overs than he has in the tourney.”
Cricket analyst Brian Goredema is concerned with the team’s bowling department thus far in the tournament.
Zimbabwe's batsmen have posted competitive scores of 277, 286 for six and now 289 in their three pool games at the World Cup for just one victory over the United Arab Emirates.
“Zimbabwe’s bowling continues to be the team’s Achilles heel in this World Cup. The batting seems to have settled but chasing huge totals has not helped,” he said.
“Zimbabwe once won so many hearts and charmed many neutrals but it high time they won cricket matches against major opposition.”
Local graphic designer Baynham Goredema, who is also an avid Zimbabwe cricket follower, felt Chigumbura failed to tinker around with his bowling combinations to break the Gayle-Samuels partnership.
“I felt once again Zimbabwe let themselves down from a position where they could have won the game," he said.
“We lost momentum to the point it seems the captain had a brain freeze. For example, I don’t understand why Stuart (Matsikenyeri) didn’t get to bowl, though he is a handy off spinner.
“Our bowling coach definitely has his work cut out. Panyangara needs to bowl his full quota while he is still effective because he is clearly not as effective in the latter stages of the game.
“It seems it's all coming down to captaining decisions. The issue of extras and no balls finally cost us heavily, if Gayle was to be caught, we needed to have discipline in the field.
"The chase was definitely on and I feel we were hard done by Taylor’s decision which could have been a game changer if he had remained."
Goredema added: “The chase was impressive as we didn’t get into a shell, and we stayed ahead of the West Indies run rate throughout and had we had wickets we had the potential to chase the total down. The teams have already figured that we are weak in the death hence Gayle and Samuels didn’t push themselves early. Chakabva is clearly struggling at the top. I still confident we can go through to the next stage if we just keep our heads.”