THE question that begged for answers among the few fans that watched Zimbabwe collapse to a 131-run loss to Pakistan at Harare Sports Club yesterday was: when will this misery end? Nobody seems to have an answer and even the technical team’s claims that the team is getting better are fast losing credibility.
With a 260 target to win, Zimbabwe batsmen, like they did in the T-20s, filed to the pavillion one after the other in quick succession.
What next for a team that has been feted so well in recent months, had so much time in camp and importantly has been playing a lot of international cricket yet still fails to show any signs of improvement. After getting so close to winning in Pakistan, expectation was that they would be even competitive on home soil.
A winning target of 260 at Harare Sports Club would tempt fans to retain hope, but it all quickly disappeared. The hosts cannot bat, bowl and field well in one match They chose to do one thing well and fail in other departments. Cricket matches are however not won that way.
The selectors rung some changes, sidelining Craig Ervine while the removal of Prosper Utseya was tactical and in came Brian Chari and Luke Jongwe.
Questions were asked over whether the inclusion of Chari, who was asked to partner Chamu Chibhabha to the open Zimbabwe’s batting would make any difference and whether the latter would restore his form in this format after struggling with the bat in the T-20s.
The answer to both questions was no. On this tour so far, Chibhabha, who played well at the world cup, has been a shadow of himself.
Yesterday he managed just 12 runs from 27 balls before he was trapped leg before wicket by Imad Wasim as Pakistan made the breakthrough they needed in the ninth over.
From there everything took a nose dive, as the match slipped away with each passing over and with each wicket tumbling. Hope diminished at a rapid rate and before 30 overs had been bowled any thought of Zimbabwe winning match had been extinguished.
Chari was defiant at the beginning on his debut but he perished for 16. Hamilton Masakadza and Sean Williams did not contribute much either although they got the starts with 26 and 19 respectively. Richmond Mutumbami and Jongwe scored three and zero summing up a disappointing day for Zimbabwe.
The sparcely populated Harare Sports Club was so silent in the afternoon one would have hardly believed there was an international cricket match going on from outside. Zimbabwe failed to reach the 137 target in the T-20s and even in the 50 over format yesterday, they still fell short of that figure.
Tinashe Panyangara, Jongwe, John Nyumbu and Graeme Cremer each picked a wicket as the visitors were limited to 259.
Zimbabwe started well with the ball taking three early wickets, but Pakistan recovered with Imad Wasim hitting 61 of the same number of balls to ensure the task was not made easy in the hosts’ chase.
The two team square off in the second ODI on tomorrow and all hope is that Zimbabwe will atleast provide some competition.