ZIMBABWE cricket head coach Dave Houghton said his charges were over the moon after they stunned the cricketing world by securing their first victory over Australian away from home in the third One Day International (ODI) at the Riverway Stadium in Townsville yesterday.
The Chevrons had been written off ahead of the third match after being outplayed in the opening two matches.
But as they have done so often over the last few weeks since Houghton’s appointment as head coach, they showed why many believe they are a team on the rise after stunning a full-strength Australia by three wickets to claim a historic victory.
After winning the toss for the first time in the series and electing to bat first, leg-spinner Ryan Burl capped off a brilliant bowling display by the Chevrons by claiming a five wickets howl for just 10 runs as the mighty Australia were rolled out for a paltry 141 runs in 31 overs.
In reply skipper Regis Chakabva played a captain’s knock as his unbeaten 37 ensured that Zimbabwe overcame some nervy moments to successfully chase the target in 39 overs to complete a sensational win, which shocked the cricketing world.
Speaking during the post-match press conference, Houghton, who has been credited with transforming the Zimbabwe side from punching bags on the international stage to a very competitive and ambitious side, said his players were over the moon after a stunning upset in Townsville.
"Obviously we're over the moon," Houghton said. "We don't get to beat the big sides that often and to beat them in their country is a huge plus for us and our cricket at the moment."
Houghton said the upset victory against Australia was yet another reward for the team’s fearless approach as they refused to be cowed into submission even after struggling to get runs on the board in the first two matches.
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“One of the things we have been trying to do over the last six months is to get over selves to playing some really positive cricket without the fear of repercussions when you get out. So even though we got bowled out reasonably cheaply in the first two games while batting first, I was quite happy that the guys were still trying to go down the wicket at the seamers, trying to be positive and trying to hit boundaries. Today we showed that even for the Australian batting lineup which is very powerful, it’s very difficult to bat first on this wicket and set a target,” he said.
Houghton, who will next month lead his side in the ICC T20 World Cup which will also be played in Australia, said he was hopeful that the victory in very difficult conditions would help secure greater opportunities against cricketing powerhouses.
Under Houghton’s watch Zimbabwe recently beat Bangladesh in both the T20I and ODI series showing great spirit to run India close in the last match of that series.
"I hope it goes a long way to providing that. I’ve seen our Future Tours Programme and we’ve got some good tours, one at home against Afghanistan and then the West Indies at home which is a big side," he said.
“Those are Test matches as well, there’s some good cricket coming to us over the next six months. It would be nice to be involved in tours to the bigger countries, we've just had India at home which is as big as it gets. We also have a Pakistan A side coming to help us with our preparations for the T20 World Cup, but it would be nice to get the full Pakistan side at some stage as well.
"The more wins we can get on in tours like this, the more that our chances are we might get some bigger opponents on a regular basis."