By Trevor Makonyonga
The Zimbabwe Cricket team, currently in New Zealand for the Cricket World Cup 2015, is faced with a stiff challenge of regaining the fans’ hearts and restoring the nation’s pride. The team which had become a ‘donor of records’ to other teams could however turn its fortunes and the World Cup is the best place to do so.
Findings from the first match show that the team might cause an upset or two at the global showcase. With Hamilton Masakadza and Chamunorwa Chibhabha in blistering form, the country can go a long way in the Cup. The first match against South Africa was mulled with some mediocre bowling in the last five overs with Solomon Mire going for 30 runs in the 48th over in Hamilton. There was need to employ a death bowler but it seemed there was none in the team. After tight bowling in the opening overs, South Africa had been struggling at 84/4 and it was beginning to smell like a shocker before JP Duminy (115*) and David Miller (138*) stood to produce a record fifth wicket partnership of 256 runs.
Tinashe Panyangara, Tendai Chatara, Tafadzwa Kamungozi and Sean Williams bowled well in the innings but somehow the team let loose in the death overs. In the future games, there is an obvious need for Tawanda Mpariwa as he is would have been employed if he had been in the starting team as he has some good death bowling antics.
The biggest let down in the Zimbabwe cricket team for some time now has been the captain. His failure to perform when it matters the most fails to justify his inclusion in the team. It seems as if he was recalled to captain the team to justify his inclusion in the World Cup team otherwise his performance on the pitch has been far from convincing.
Another underperforming player has been Craig Ervine. Although he pulled a fabulous catch in the match against South Africa, his performance with the bat has been pathetic. He has not been scoring as expected of a middle order batsman.
With a player such as Regis Chakabva in the fold, it will be important to drop one player from the team that played South Africa and add Chakabva. His performances for the national team have been marvellous and having him in the team would many a solid figure able to accelerate the scoreboard.
There will also need to bring Tawanda Mpariwa or Prosper Utseya into the starting team. There is no greater addition to any team than having a bowler who can bat. Tafadzwa Kamungozi lacks the same amount of experience that the two possess.
Zimbabwe will only need to win at least win three matches to qualify for the next round. Given the pool they are in, they will seek to beat the West Indies, United Arab Emirates and Ireland then possibly shock either India or Pakistan to progress to the next stage.
West Indies has been struggling and they look like an easy team to play at the moment. The United Arab Emirates are virtually an unknown team in the cricketing circles and should be treated with respect though the match must be a must win. Ireland has grown from being a mere associate nation to being one of the best performing teams of the game. The match against Ireland will be tricky and could be one of the most interesting matches of the global showcase.
With India being the defending champions and having had recorded a win against rivals Pakistan in their opening match, the game against Zimbabwe will be of more relevance if they lose rather than if they win. The same will be case with the match against Pakistan; if Zimbabwe wins then they would have recorded a shock win.
Given the current form Zimbabwe is in, it is possible that they will reach the next stage. Having a great coach in Dave Whatmore, the team looks set to make a huge impact in this year’s World Cup. All players just have to focus and hopefully the fans back home will have something to smile about. The team can redefine their course in the ongoing World Cup.