THE Zimbabwe national cricket team is seeking inspiration from past failure as it embarks on a tour of Pakistan where it will play three important one-day internationals (ODIs) against the hosts as well as the same number of T-20 Internationals.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE
Zimbabwe missed out on the 2019 International Cricket Council World Cup in England following a heartbreak that saw the team unexpectedly losing to minnows United Arab Emirates in a match the country needed to win to clinch one of two play-off tickets to the global party.
The then Heath Streak-coached side found itself having to go through the rigours of the play-offs after failing to make it among the top seven sides in the ODI rankings.
Having learnt from past experience, this time the team is aiming to make it among the automatic qualifiers on Pakistani soil.
Ahead of the series, Zimbabwe Cricket’s mantra has centred on earning an automatic World Cup spot and captain Chamu Chibhabha has stressed the point at every opportunity.
“Its very crucial for us to play really well. Super League games are very important when you consider the fact that we have to qualify for the World Cup,” Chibhabha said after the team’s training session on Wednesday.
“We would rather qualify directly as opposed to having to play in the qualifiers because that’s a lot of pressure.”
For him, the qualifiers are a dangerous route to try and qualify from where they have to face lesser sides that will be playing with freedom, while a full-member side will be carrying the weight of expectation, which can be destructive as Zimbabwe discovered at Harare Sports Club in 2018.
Zimbabwean cricketers acknowledge that they launch their campaign in the tough conditions of the Asian flat wickets, but they retain the confidence that they can upset the odds and pull off some important wins.
“We would love to get a couple of wins under our belts which makes life easier for us to qualify for the World Cup,” Chibhabha said.
Chibhabha is one of six players that toured Pakistan in 2015 and he was the highest run scorer for Zimbabwe in the ODIs despite him experiencing the heartbreak of falling for 99 in one of the matches.
“From our experience in 2015, we know we are going to play on a flat wicket — some might have spin on them, slow and turning, but we are expecting a lot of runs on the board in the series,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s going to be hot, but it’s not as bad as we expected. We will be playing day-night matches, so dew is going to be a huge factor.”
The first ODI will be played on October 30 and the last two will be contested on November 1 and 3.
Zimbabwe has got a lot of experience among its ranks, with Brendan Taylor coming in as one of the players that were not part of the 2015 tour.
In 2015, Taylor had just started on a Kolpak contract in England, while Test skipper Sean Williams was part of the previous trip.
It seems former skipper Elton Chigumbura is in a last chance saloon, having struggled with injuries in the last couple of years.
He was one of the stand-out performers in the last series and he revealed that he enjoyed batting in Pakistan conditions.
Zimbabwe acknowledge that they face a tough task but they know success can be achieved.
Their biggest undoing will probably be their lack of game time, as they last played international cricket in March while Pakistan have already had a run post COVID-19 lockdowns.
Chamu Chibhabha (captain), Faraz Akram, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Wessly Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Carl Mumba, Richmond Mtumbami, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Brendan Taylor, Donald Tiripano, Sean Williams
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