Zimbabwe out to justify cricket status

DESPITE a Test win culminating in a series draw before a One-Day-International triumph, the T-20 series against touring Bangladesh at Queens at the weekend retains as much importance as the more acclaimed versions of cricket for hosts Zimbabwe.

Report by Kevin Mapasure

The two-match series is the last of the Bangladesh tour, with Zimbabwe’s 2-1 series win in the ODI version owing much to Vusi Sibanda’s resurgence and vengeance with the bat.

Captain Brendan Taylor will lead out the team tomorrow in the knowledge that his coach Steve Mangongo wants them to play for their credibility, dignity and respectability in the cricket world.

“We still have our doubters out there, we still have people who believe we do not deserve to be playing at the highest level,” said Mangongo.

“It is our responsibility to make sure we can restore that credibility, ensure respectability and maintain our dignity. This series we are going into is very important for us as we need to prove to the cricket world that we are better than most people think.

“We are a developing and hungry team and we will look to take the ODI momentum into the T-20 series, but we know too our opponents are very good at this version, thus we have to be at our best.”

Zimbabwe is currently ranked 12th on the International Cricket Council (ICC) T-20 rankings, below non-Test playing nations Ireland and Netherlands who are ranked 10th and 11th respectively.
Bangladesh is ranked ninth with 742 points and a rating of 82 compared to Zimbabwe’s 373rd and 41st.

Mangongo said they will play this series hoping to get results that will take care of rankings which are important for World Cup seedings.

Mighty sixes were hit in the ODIs and even bigger ones are expected with more balls expected to disappear into the Queens’ pine trees.

Sibanda, dropped in the first ODI, returned with vengeance knocking a quickly constructed 49 in the second ODI, setting the platform for a Zimbabwe win. He then finally hit a century after batting throughout the innings of Zimbabwe’s successful pursuit in the final ODI.

Sibanda will expect to take his place to open the batting in this adrenalin-rushing 20-over version of the game.

Mangongo said Sibanda’s performance in the last two ODIs shows that, if pushed, underperforming players can up their game.

Taylor is overdue for at least a half-ton in the limited overs’ version of the game, and he too will be hoping to bring his A game in this series and finish off the tour in emphatic fashion.

If there is any game that is well suited for Elton Chigumbura, it is the T-20 format of the game. He has been given the licence to thrill each time he walks onto the crease and after showing good form in the Bangladesh Premier League, the tourists will be hoping to strangle the free flow of runs from Chigumbura’s bat.

But the tourists have heavy artillery too in their reserves for this version in outgoing captain Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal with the bat and Shakib Al Hasan with both bat and ball. Abdur Razzak has already given a tantalising glimpse of what can be expected of him, breezing to 53 runs in just 22 balls. He cleared the boundary five times while hitting it on four occasions in the final stages of his team’s innings of the second ODI.

He was however aided by a classic case of how-not-to-bowl at the death by the Zimbabwe pace attack, with Shingi Masakadza and Kyle Jarvis particularly liable.

Top