ZIMBABWE national cricket team coach Lalchand Rajput has lavished praise on his team following their performance in the One Day International series against hosts Pakistan, which they, however, lost 2-1.
The tourists earned 10 points in the Super League table, where the top seven sides will earn automatic tickets to the International Cricket Council World Cup after they won the third and final ODI.
Zimbabwe had a good chance of winning the first match, but fell short losing by 26 runs as they chased a winning target of 289.
Brendan Taylor scored a century in the match, while Wesley Madhevere helped himself to 55 runs.
Rajput, who did not travel to Pakistan with the team due to political tensions between his native India and their neighbours, said that he was pleased to see senior players stepping up, while the younger players also showed the future was bright.
Despite being pleased with the overall show, he still sees room for improvement.
“I am really happy the way they have performed, the seniors are taking the responsibility and I am really happy for Sean (Williams) and BT (Brendan Taylor) for getting hundreds. I am happy with Muzarabani and Ngarava taking the mantle in the bowling department,” Rajput told IndependentSport.
While Zimbabwe’s win in the third and final ODI was generally viewed as an upset, Rajput believes his team could have even done better.
“There is always room for improvement and I am sure they can do better than this; you have to keep on improving upon your performances.”
He said the opening partnership between Brian Chari and skipper Chamu Chibhabha struggled, but believes in them bouncing back.
“The opening partnership is not firing, but I am sure it is work in progress. You will see in the T20s that the openers will come to the party.”
The former India coach said Madhevere was the future of Zimbabwean cricket.
“I am happy for the senior players performing and taking responsibility, but I am very happy for Madhevera. He is a classy player. If he keeps his head cool, he will play for Zimbabwe for a long time. I am a big fan of his. He played so well in Bangladesh and is carrying that form into Pakistan too. He is a brilliant fielder and bowls well too. he brings lot of value to the table in all the three departments. As I said, he is the future of Zimbabwe.”
He also made special mention to Blessing Muzarabani, who took seven wickets in the third and final ODI, including two in the Super Over, where he conceded just two runs to set up Zimbabwe for a historic win.
“Mazarbani, with all his county cricket experience, has become a more reliable bowler, who can turn the game in any situation. I am also pleased with Ngarava — the way he is shaping up, bowling upfront and at the death too.”
Zimbabwe have a busy schedule next year, where they will play, among other teams, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ireland, as they target a berth at India 2023.
Pakistan have already confirmed their visit to Zimbabwe, where they will also play red ball cricket.