Zim confident of victory

HARARE - Zimbabwe face Ireland this morning at Harare Sports Club with an aura of optimism after Afghanistan clipped West Indies' wings with a three-wicket win yesterday.

Afghanistan’s win presents the hosts with a good opportunity to leapfrog the Caribbean Islanders ahead of their clash on Monday provided they clear the first hurdle by beating Ireland today. 

Not only did Afghanistan’s win boost their points’ collection having arrived at the Super six stage with no points but also did a huge service to fellow teams from Group B, Zimbabwe and Scotland that are due to play against West Indies by exposing their frailties and most importantly that they are not invincible after all.

The Super Six stage points’ schedule was derived from the points scored against opposition that qualified for this stage and Zimbabwe recorded three points, two from Afghanistan and one from Scotland in the group stage.

Zimbabwe carried three points into the Super Six stage the same number as Scotland.

West Indies started off as favourites with four points and even in the wake of the stunning defeat to Afghanistan they are still in with a huge a shout and remain favourites to fill one of the two remaining slots.

England 2019 is still a reality for the hosts but first things first they will need to negotiate their way past a tricky Ireland that finished second in Group A on six points before they can look into their next assignment against the mighty West Indies on Monday.

Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer conceded the tournament is wide open following West Indies’ defeat and the biggest mistake teams could ever make is to give an unpredictable Afghanistan a new lease of life. They have now got off the mark with two points with two heading into their last two matches gunning for a possible six points — too little too little it may end up being but a good side on their day.

Zimbabwe, in particular, struggled to contain Afghanistan in a closely contested match in Bulawayo before claiming the final wicket with three balls remaining for their second set of points in the qualifiers.

Cremer who leads his side against Ireland this morning at Harare Sports Club conceded that West Indies’ defeat puts the tournament wide open but declared his charges hungry for a win.

“Afghanistan bowled really well and a tough score to chase, it’s really good because it keeps the tournament wide open,” Cremer told the Daily News yesterday.

“Everything is going according to plan and guys are hungry to put in a good performance for the crowd.”

Ireland sit on two points, just a point behind Zimbabwe and both sides will be hungry for success given that any slip up may dent their chances of making it to England next year.

The hosts will be looking forward to their explosive opening pair of Cephas Zhuwao and Solomon Mire to give them a perfect start with the bat.

But crucially, a problem that is synonymous with Zhuwao, the call will be on him to try and stay in for long and bat a bit deeper into the innings.

The left-hander is a no nonsense batsman who takes pride in despatching every delivery that comes through to him and while he has recorded a fair share of good scores in the region of 40s, he has not been able to go past beyond six-seven overs.

Shot selection and knowing which delivery to play and leave will probably take the 31-year-old to triple figures and just staying on the crease for 10 odd overs given his style of play will enable him to reach triple figures.

But that as it may, the bowlers will definitely not be sitting on their laurels because they are equally aware of the danger posed by giving Zhuwao more time at the crease.

The batting department is endowed with a lot of flair and experience and the puzzle is slowly falling in place for Zimbabwe.

Apart from Sikandar Raza who has been a revelation in recent times, seasoned campaigner Brendan Taylor is also gradually paying back the faith ZC had in luring him back from England where he was a regular big-match performer in County cricket.

Hamilton Masakadza is also working himself back quite comfortably so is Craig Ervine while Sean Williams who dodged a finger injury to bounce back in the last two matches in the group stages has not really shone in the manner he is known to.

Meanwhile, in the entertaining low-scorer at Harare Sports Club yesterday, Afghanistan restricted West Indies to 197/8 after the Caribbean Islanders won the toss and elected to bat.

Big-hitter Chris Gayle’s dismissal for a single from nine balls was the all-important breakthrough Afghanistan needed and his loss was felt in the whole West Indian side as none went on to score a half century.

Shai Hope (43), Marlon Samuels (36), captain Jason Holder (28) and Evin Lewis’ 27 summed up West Indies’ misery with the bat as they fell prey to offbreak spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi who claimed three and two wickets respectively.

Afghanistan’s number three batsman Rahmat Shah then took it upon himself with 68 runs and his dismissal in the 41st over saw his side in the driving seat on 152/5 prompting a few late blows from skipper Rashid Khan (13) and Najibullah Zadran (19) after Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi had added 27 and 31 runs upfront.

Jason Holder’s three wickets and Keemo Paul’s two went in vain as Afghanistan came out three wicket winners with 14 balls to spare.

At Old Hararians Sports Club Scotland beat United Arab Emirates by 73 runs after totalling 322/6 thanks to wicketkeeper batsman and opener Matthew Cross’s 114 runs from 135 balls, Calum MacLeod’s 78 and captain Kyle Coetzer’s 43.

UAE then managed 249 runs all out in 47,4 overs with half tons from Muhammad Usman (80) and Ahmed Raza’s 50.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.