THE Zimbabwe national team suffered a crushing 54-run defeat to Ireland in the first of their two warm-up matches at the International Cricket Council Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka yesterday.
Report by Staff Writer
Brendan Taylor’s men arrived in Sri Lanka this week in buoyant mood aiming to defy the also-rans tag in a pool where they face the hosts and South Africa.
But they were soon brought down to earth by some good batting from the Irish who scored 181 runs for the loss of five wickets in their 20 overs after losing the toss.
In reply Zimbabwe’s innings got off to a bad start when opener Vusi Sibanda fell for a golden duck. Taylor lasted just nine balls, contributing only three runs.
Hamilton Masakadza showed some resolve and batted with purpose with his 27 ball 44 which featured five boundaries and two which cleared the fence.
Masakadza combined with Craig Ervine for a 55-run stand that was broken by Masakadza’s departure off the bowling of George Dockrell and caught by Stuart Thompson to leave Zimbabwe still in good health at 74-3.
But that was as good as it got. Zimbabwe fell behind losing five wickets for just nine runs with middle order batsmen Stuart Matsikenyeri, Elton Chigumbura and Malcolm Waller each falling for a duck.
Graeme Cremer fared no better, falling victim to a combination of Alex Cusack and Kevin O’Brien for a single run. Prosper Utseya and Raymond Price’s task was damage control and they had a fair share of success with the target way out of reach by the time they combined.
Utseya managed 23 off 34 while Price neared a run a ball with 17 off 16 balls with two fours.
Zimbabwe’s batting is cause for concern, the only comfort is that they have time to rectify their shortcomings before Tuesday’s opener against the hosts who creamed the West Indies by nine wickets in another warm-up match.
The batsmen will seek improvement, the same can also be said of the bowlers who suffered at the hands of the Irish batsmen who rode on O’Brien’s 62 which came off 49 balls.
Kyle Jarvis shipped 37 runs in three overs without any wicket success while Brian Vitori took the single wicket of Paul Stirling, conceding just 12.
Front-line bowler Chris Mpofu led from the front with three scalps at the expense of 39 runs in four overs, while uncapped Richard Muzhange managed one wicket conceding 38 runs also in four overs.
Zimbabwe will play their final warm-up match against Bangladesh tomorrow hoping to rectify their shortcomings to go into the tournament proper in the right frame of mind.