Zimbabwe Cricket: Chikuru Kufema
A vibrant, lively and cheering crowd of around 12,000 spectators couldn’t dampen the spirits of the UAE players who saved their best performance of the tournament for Zimbabwe’s most crucial match to knock them out of contention for a place in the World Cup.
The only way Zimbabwe can qualify for the World Cup is in the scenario of a tie (in which each side bats for, at least, 25 overs). In this situation, Ireland’s net run-rate will drop behind Zimbabwe
“The fans have been excellent from Day one in Bulawayo to Harare, the turn up was amazing, they must have been more disappointed than anyone of us here, it’s so sad that we didn’t give them what they wanted,” these are the words of Zimbabwean Captain , Graeme Creme after his side lost to UAE in a World Cup Qualifier match in Harare today.
For the first time since 1979, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) will not be at the World Cup.
They crashed out of the running for a spot at the 2019 World Cup with a narrow three-run defeat to the United Arab Emirates in their final Super Six match at the Harare Sports Club. Chasing 230 in 40 overs in a rain-affected match, Zimbabwe went into the last over needing 15 runs but managed only 11.
Their chase had been powered by Sean Williams’ 80, but his dismissal in the 37th over left the lower order with too much to do, and UAE held their nerve to record their first victory over a Test nation
Thousands of fans who had come hoping for a winning, which would subsequently take the Chevrons to England, left the stadium dejected, some in tears, some cursing the team for probably one of their lowest loses in cricket.
Zimbabwe captain, Graeme Cremer’s a half-hearted apology to the fans in particular and the nation at large is not enough for the nation that has been starved of glory in the past 18 years since the days of Andy and Grant Flower and Heath Streak, who ironically, coached the worst defeat for Zimbabwe.
That the team underperforms, occasionally, is forgivable but losing to a hastily assembled UAE team, that is made up of semi-professionals who spend the day working in other professions and only take cricket as a hobby, is totally unacceptable … but as the street ling says Chukuru Kufema, loosely translated to being alive is more important.
The nation is grateful that after such a calamitous heartbreaking performance, we are all still alive, that is if some did not die from the heartbreak.
Cremer and his team must come and apologise to the nation, in public for such a humiliation.
The result means the winner of Friday’s match between Afghanistan and Ireland will become the second qualifiers after the Windies to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and will also feature in Sunday’s final. Apart from the significance of this match, it will be Niall O’Brien’s 100th ODI while Rashid Khan will be looking to claim four wickets to become the quickest bowler to 100 wickets.
The UAE also got a stroke of luck when the rain came down in force with their score at 235 for seven in 47.5 overs. However, when play resumed after a loss of 119 minutes (including 30 minutes of lunch break), Zimbabwe’s target was revised to 230 in 40 overs.
The UAE then turned the heat on the Zimbabwe batsmen when they reduced them to 45 for three that included the prized scalp of the tournament’s leading run-getter Brendan Taylor. Sean Williams and Peter Moor, playing his first match of the tournament, lifted them to 124 before the climbing required run-rate resulted in the demise of Moor (39).
When the last eight-over Power Play started, Zimbabwe needed 70 to win but despite Sikandar Raza (34, 26b, 2×4, 1×6) and Williams’ (80, 80b, 5×4, 1×6) best efforts, finished at 226 for seven.
It was the third time in this tournament that an Associate member defeated a Full member. Earlier, Scotland had beaten Afghanistan, while Hong Kong also beat Afghanistan.
Earlier, the UAE, put in to bat, were 235 for seven in 47.5 overs when heavy downpour ended their innings.
As the nation goes to sleep tonight, one can only be grateful that we are all alive, Chikuru Kufema will be the words the nation will be talking about