A TRIANGULAR one-day international series involving hosts Pakistan and Sri Lanka is the next port of call for the youthful Zimbabwe national cricket team to win more admirers after showing promi
se at the ICC Champions Trophy in England last week.
Following their gutsy perfomance in the four-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka at The Oval in their last ICC Champions Trophy match, the Tatenda Taibu-captained side will be hoping to at least show a level of consistency when they take on the two Asian giants.
In the triangular series, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe will play against each other twice with the top two meeting in a day-night final on October 16.
Led by 18-year-old all-rounder Elton Chigumbura, Zimbabwe put up a defiant middle-order batting show against Sri Lanka with Chigumbura scoring his second one-day international half-century and spin bowler Prosper Utseya chipping in with 36 runs. Chigumbura completed a commendable all-round show by taking three wickets.
He continued with his good form in the first warm-up match in Pakistan, smashing 81 runs in the drawn two-day match against Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman’s XI.
However, a cause for concern for Zimbabwe coach Phil Simmons is the batting top order, which is still struggling to post consolidating partnerships and failing to last decent periods at the crease.
The top-order batsmen look vulnerable to pace bowling and lack the technique to play balls delivered outside the stumps. This led to the dismissal of opener Stuart Matsikinyeri, Dion Ebrahim and Vusi Sibanda in similar fashion against Sri Lanka.
Zimbabwe, who crashed to a 154-run defeat to in-form England in their first match, have experienced an indifferent outing in the bowling department where young paceman Tinashe Panyangara conceded plenty of runs and lacked confidence and control. However, CFX Academy seam bowler Edward Rainsford is progressing well at this stage with his accuracy and medium pace that offers batsmen little to exploit.
Yesterday Zimbabwe started their second warm-up match against a Pakistan Cricket Board Patron’s XI at the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore in a four-day game.
Zimbabwe’s first match in the triangular series is against Pakistan next Thursday. Prince Edward schoolboy Graeme Cremer has been flown to the sub-continent to beef up the spin bowling attack left toothless by the absence of world-class spinner Ray Price.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union has announced the itinerary for England’s tour to Zimbabwe at the end of next month. Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo will stage three games, while Harare Sports Club will host two.