Zim, Ireland battle for ODI rankings

International cricket comes back to the local scene when Zimbabwe takes on tricky Ireland in the first of a three-match Coca Cola One-Day-International (ODI) series at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

It is a series that will be of immense importance as the world keeps a close eye on Zimbabwe ahead of readmission to Test cricket.
Since a self- imposed exile from the five-day game in 2004, Zimbabwe’s rehabilitation has been judged on their performance in the shorter versions of the game and the upcoming series will be used yet again as an instrument of measure.
A whitewash win by either side will see them move up the International Cricket Council One Day rankings.
Zimbabwe is currently ranked beneath their opponents and  a series win would catapult them above Ireland at number 10, one place above Bangladesh.
For the tourists, a three- match win would see them soar above Test playing Bangladesh.
The rankings have suddenly become of value due to the ICC’s contemplation of a 10-team World Cup in future where rankings would come into play.
Zimbabwe will field a full strength side for the series with captain Elton Chigumbura expected to lead again, while batting stars Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor are expected to shoulder the batting burden.
The Ireland challenge is not new to Zimbabwe and their drawn match against the hosts at the 2007 World Cup hosted by the West Indies is one of their most famous results.
At the same tournament they went on to chisel out one of the biggest upsets in the game’s history when they beat Pakistan and qualified for the Super Eights.
And their ranking above Zimbabwe means beating them will be no mean task.
The visitors’ coach Phil Simmons, who once coached Zimbabwe, is looking beyond Zimbabwe and wants his team ranked above Bangladesh.
“It’s an important trip for a variety of reasons. We are currently ranked 10th in the world, above Zimbabwe and we want to close in on Bangladesh,” Simmons told the Ireland cricket website.
Ireland has in their squad three players, Captain William Porterfield, Niall O’Brien and Andre Botha playing county cricket.
Fresh from a galvanising triangular series performance against Sri Lanka and India where Zimbabwe managed two wins against the latter, local fans will be looking at nothing short of a whitewash.
For Zimbabwean players, a more lucrative series against South Africa looms and they would be using this series to fight for places in the side that will tour across the Limpopo.
Only Andy Blignaut is missing from the squad that played the three nation series and lost in the final to Sri Lanka.
Shingirai Masakadza, who was impressive in their drawn four day match against Ireland this week, has replaced the all rounder.
Zimbabwe squad
Elton Chigumbura (captain), Graeme Cremer, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Charles Coventry, Craig Ervine, Gregory Lamb, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingirai Masakadza, Christopher Mpofu, Raymond Price, Rainsford Edward, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor and Prosper Utseya.

 

Kevin Mapasure

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