Zimbabwe need to bounce back

AFTER Zimbabwe’s missed opportunity against Pakistan where the national cricket team loosened up with the bat after taking a firm grip of the ICC World Cup match against Pakistan with the ball in their World Cup Group B clash on Sunday, Dave Whatmore’s men have not lost hope for a quarter-final berth ahead of their next match against Ireland here on Saturday.

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BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN HOBART, AUSTRALIA

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Zimbabwe's Craig Ervine is struck by a short delivery from Pakistan's Mohammad Irfan during their Cricket World Cup match at the Gabba in Brisbane

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If Zimbabwe were to win that match, still that alone would not be enough as they still have to beat India in Auckland in their last match to stand a chance.

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Middle order batsman Brendan Taylor described the defeat to Pakistan as a missed opportunity but acknowledged that they struggled against Mohammad Irfan’s pace and bounce on the Gabba wicket on Sunday.
\n“We certainly did target this match and we felt that half the job was done particularly well, restricting them to 235,” said Taylor.

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“But they came out the first 15 overs and made it pretty difficult for us and bowled some heavy balls, and it was difficult to score, but it needed a partnership, and unfortunately 50s or 30 partnerships, they’re not going to get you over the line. It was extremely difficult to comprehend this loss.”

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While acknowledging the good bowling display by Pakistan, the right hand batsman said that Zimbabwe contributed to their downfall with some soft dismissals and failure to string meaningful patnerships, with batsmen perishing just when they had got themselves into the match.

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“We found ways to get out at crucial periods, some soft dismissals, as well. That’s been a major downfall for us in the last four games, crucial periods when batters have needed to get through those initial periods, and finding ways to get out. It’s not helping the team scores, but that’s the way it goes, I guess.”

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He, however, feels India could be there for the taking in that final group match and they are targeting what would be a major upset.

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“There is definitely a little more added pressure now, but Ireland are playing some good cricket, and we feel we are 80 percent there. I think if we can just close that gap a little bit more, I think we’re heading in the right direction for a good win against Ireland, and if we can do that, India have been on the road for a long time.

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“Yes, they’re a fantastic cricketing unit, but we saw what happened at Eden Park the other day, and if we play some good cricket, which we know we can do, there’s no reason why we can’t have that self-belief that we can win.”

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The immediate task now if for Zimbabwe to get their World Cup campaign back on track with a win against Ireland who also fancy their chances having dispatched West Indies and United Arab Emirates.

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The Zimbabwe camp is still sweating on the fitness of captain Elton Chigumbura who by yesterday was still being assessed.

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He is set to go for a scan today to ascertain the extent of his injury having struggled with a suspected muscle tear.

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Taylor said Chigumbura was an important cog in the team and feels Zimbabwe would have had a better chance of winning against Pakistan had the all-rounder been fully fit.

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Chigumbura managed 35 runs from 60 deliveries but he could not steer Zimbabwe home. During his batting spell he avoided quick singles and what should have been twos could only be singles.

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Zimbabwe had done some good work in the field so much so that even after conceding 73 runs in the last ten overs they still had a chasable 236 victory target.

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Yet they floundered that chance, failing to deal with the pace of Irfan and Wahab Raiz, having encounter a bouncy track they are not accustomed back home.

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Zimbabwe won many admirers with performances against South Africa and West Indies where they made some good work in chasing totals above 300 despite falling short in the end.

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A lot was expected of their batting in the last match and with five days before their Ireland clash focus will be on trying to get all fronts firing. – NewsDay