Honeymoon over for Zim

HARARE - Zimbabwe cleared the first hurdle and now switches to serious mode when they begin their bid for the 2019 World Cup in England with a Super six date against Ireland at Harare Sports Club on Friday.

The hosts finished unbeaten in the Group B with three wins and a draw same as Scotland whom they drew with on Monday. Both have seven points and Zimbabwe tops the group by virtue of a superior net run rate of 1.035 compared to Scotland’s 0.855.

The beauty about this tournament’s format is that the teams take their group stage points into the qualifiers and whoever finishes top at the end qualifies to the World Cup in England. Only two slots are left and the current points’ standing shows West Indies leading the pack on eight points followed by Zimbabwe and Scotland on seven, Ireland on six and United Arab Emirates on four points.

Afghanistan, given a life-line, sit on two points and the maximum they can get will be eight points should they win all their Super Six matches (three) but their presence in the “Big Boys’ League” will come as a blessing for the hosts.

They are still a good side capable of stopping any opposition on their day and they have done it before- recording a memorable win over the mighty West Indies during a warm-up in Harare just before the tournament roared to life.

“Good to be back,” Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor told the Daily News upon arrival from Bulawayo yesterday.

“We all looking forward to the Super Six which is now a notch higher from the group stage games but I’m sure we will be equal to the task and with the home support just like we had in Bulawayo its only up to how we play on the day.”

Zimbabwe have had some all-round exploits with many players coming to the party to aid the team’s victories. Sikandar Raza has been outstanding with both bat and ball particularly in the first two matches where he scored 123 and 60 runs and claiming three and four wickets respectively.

Explosive opener Cephas Zhuwao has also shown glimpses of brilliance scoring quick-fire 41 and 44 runs but his only undoing has been the inability to stay longer on the crease, while experienced batsman Brendan Taylor has proved that there is no substitute for experience coming in with vital match-winning cameos.

The bowling unit has seen a revelation in young seamer Blessing Muzarabani, apart from Raza while Tendai Chatara, suspended Brian Vitori, Kyle Jarvis and spinners Cremer, Sean Williams all chipping in nicely during the group stages.

About the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier

The tournament started in 1979 and was known as the ICC Trophy until 2005

Four Test sides, Bangladesh (1997), Ireland (2009), Sri Lanka (1979), and Zimbabwe (1982, 1986 and 1990), have previously won the tournament. Other winners are the Netherlands (2001), Scotland (2005 and 2014) and  the United Arab Emirates (1994)

The Netherlands and Papua New Guinea are the only sides who have featured in all tournaments since 1979

For the 2018 event, the Windies, Ireland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and the UAE make up Group A, while Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Hong Kong and Nepal form Group B.

Each side will play the other teams in their group once with the top three from the groups progressing to the Super Six stage.

The teams each play three Super Six matches against the sides they did not meet in the group stage. All points won in the groups will be carried over to the Super Six stage apart from those gained against the bottom two from each group.

The finalists will both progress to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, whilst the Netherlands (ICC World Cricket League Championship winners) and the three highest finishing associate Members will earn ODI status for the next four years till 2022.


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