Zimbabwe and Scotland will be tussling for top spot and two crucial points to take to the super six stage, when they two clash in their final Group B encounter of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup qualifier at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo today.
BY Kevin Mapasure in Bulawayo
Whoever emerges winner will enhance their chances of qualifying for the World Cup, which will be hosted in England and Wales next year.
Both have six points going into today’s match, having brushed aside every team they have met so far, but one of them will have their record blemished today.
Both are already guaranteed of carrying at least two points to the super six stage, but a perfect record in the groups makes the task easier in the final stage.
Only the top two teams in the super six will make it to the finals and teams from the same group will not play each other.
Zimbabwe played Scotland in Edinburgh last year, with the two match series finishing in a draw after the hosts won the first match by 26 runs before the visitors hit back with a six wicket victory.
But that is not all that should remind Zimbabwe about the task they have at hand, as Scotland have played some good cricket, so far, which saw them beat Afghanistan, who were the initial favourites.
Zimbabwe skipper, Graeme Cremer said that they are mindful of the fact that they are facing up to a strong challenge and they have to be at their best if they are to maintain their perfect record.
“We are mindful of the fact that we are playing a good side, Scotland have been playing some good cricket and we know that we have to take the game seriously like we have done to the other matches, so far,” he said.
“We hope the guys turn up again to bat and bowl well, so that we can take the important points. We have been discussing that we need to get more runs from the lower order, we need guys to stick around a little bit more.”
The bulk of the players in the current Zimbabwe squad faced Scotland last year, but a few things have changed since then with the return of batsman, Brendan Taylor and seamer, Kyle Jarvis.
Zimbabwe have been banking on an explosive batting approach from the start with the duo of Solomon Mire and Cephas Zhuwao doing the job.
In the last match against Hong Kong, the two scored 53 runs from just 29 balls with Zhuwao ending on 45.
Hamilton Masakadza, who scored a half century in the last match, which Zimbabwe won by 89 runs, said that the two explosive openers have made it easier for the middle order batsmen.
“Mire and Zhuwao are explosive, they go after the bowlers from the start and put them under pressure. That is making it easier for the guys, who come in after. Against Scotland, we just need to do more of the same, continue to apply ourselves fully in all aspects of the game and everything else will just fall into place.”
Scotland have surprised many with the results they have put up so far, but captain, Kyle Coetzer said that they had always believed that they can beat teams at this tournament and qualify.
“Some people seem to be surprised by the position we find ourselves in,” he said. “We’re not. We believe in what we’re capable of. There’s excitement there. But we know how important beating Zimbabwe is in terms of carrying points forward into the super six. And the experience we have helps. It’s a massive part of it. We’ve looked at our methods and how we get ready to cope under pressure by challenging ourselves. Having a decent number of caps plays a role. But we’ve found ways to improve. That’s pretty important as well.”