ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Australia v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup 2011, Ahmedabad

Zimbabwe pin hopes on spin

Brydon Coverdale in Ahmedabad

February 20, 2011

Comments: 16 | Text size: A | A

Zimbabwe's coach, Alan Butcher, thinks it's unlikely his team will beat the defending champions on Monday. The captain of Australia, Ricky Ponting, is not expecting a surprise loss. The bookmakers have Australia as almost unbackable favourites. But somewhere in the back of the minds of this Zimbabwe group is a sliver of hope, the knowledge that upsets can happen.

And that if their three spinners can make use of an Ahmedabad pitch that could provide assistance, it might be just enough to bring Australia back down to a more even footing. Of course, everything must go right for Zimbabwe, who have not beaten Australia in an ODI since their shock win at the 1983 World Cup. Everything would also need to go wrong for Australia, who have not lost a World Cup match since 1999, back in the era of Steve Waugh and Alistair Campbell.

"The longer a winning run goes, the closer it must be to coming to an end," Butcher said on Sunday. "It may not be us that ends it but someone has got to. All we've done is tried to prepare as well as we can, on the basis that if we play as well as we can in six matches during this World Cup, we can't do any more than that. If on the way one or two of the big sides have a bad day and slip up, hopefully we will take advantage of that.

"If we play confidently, play our best cricket and Australia don't, then we may have a chance. Let's be honest, if both sides play their best cricket, it's very likely that we'll lose."

Butcher is nothing if not a realist. But the Zimbabweans have kept an eye on Australia's performance during the warm-up matches, when they struggled against top-quality spin. Ray Price, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer are not quite the same as Harbhajan Singh, but spin is the strength of Zimbabwe and Australia will need to force the pace for much of their innings.

It's nearly seven years since the teams have met in a one-day international, although the Australians will remember with frustration being upset by Zimbabwe at the 2007 World Twenty20. In the past year, Zimbabwe have had ODI wins against India, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh, so they know how to beat good teams, but Ponting is confident his side will have their measure.

"We had a good team meeting last night and talked about all their players, individually, and went through batters and bowlers," Ponting said. "They've got a lot of spin options, even a couple of part-time spinners and a quality left-arm offspinner and a legspinner as well, that I wouldn't be surprised if they play.

"We've had a good look at them. We know what their strengths and weaknesses are. We've also seen their record, and their record is not that strong either, and that's against some of the smaller nations. We'd expect to play well tomorrow and hopefully get the tournament off on the right note."

And after powerful performances from India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka against weaker sides in the opening matches of the tournament, it seems likely Australia will continue the trend. Zimbabwe's most ardent fans might say that it means a surprise is due.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 16 
Posted by Dhoni_fan_from_a_dada_era on (February 21, 2011, 12:33 GMT)

123papafrita, I had marked your words and now I want to hear some more comments about Haddin from you?

Posted by   on (February 21, 2011, 12:15 GMT)

well well i thought Oz would blow away Zim out of Motera for more than 300 runs.Whats happenning 200 runs in 44.1 overs and some respectable score of 262 in 50 overs. India, Nz, SriLanka dominated in thier first match. Oz sure to lose some matches in this world cup. Keep itup Zimby. You are giving Ricky a run for his captaincy and awaiting to watch the rest of the match.

Posted by indianzen on (February 21, 2011, 9:48 GMT)

I Support Zim, come on guys, you can do it, its all by team work...

Posted by   on (February 21, 2011, 7:48 GMT)

Zim to beat Oz? Wishful dreaming I think. Only hope that Zim give a good account of themselves - something like Bangladesh on Saturday. Good luck to both teams, give us a good game.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

OMG!!! No wonder we never win any crunch games!! The negativity flows from the very top. I would not want to be coached by someone with so little faith. I mean why the hell are you the coach if you cannot motivate your players to play above their best? Go Zim and playto win, not to expectation!!!

Posted by Meety on (February 21, 2011, 2:43 GMT)

Butcher's right as Oz will in all probability go to town on the pace bowling, Price & Utseya in particular are very good & are on a par, (in ODIs) with most of the other spinners currently doing the rounds. Cremer is a little bit up & down - big difference between best & worst efforts. A good day from him could yield a 5 wicket haul - bad day 0/70 off 6 overs! IMO - playing Zim first up is a blessing for Oz - allows for a good hit out before the tougher games - Zim won't be push overs. The Zim spinners will be an excellant taste of what is to come. I don't expect Oz to make a massive total (if batting first), but SHOULD defend comfortably. If Zim bat first - I can see Zim potentially getting low 200s which should ensure decent game time for Oz batsmen. 28yrs since Zim have beaten us - I agree with what Butcher says "The longer a winning run goes, the closer it must be to coming to an end"!!!

Posted by   on (February 21, 2011, 0:15 GMT)

A bit harsh the thoughts that Price isn't up there.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2011, 0:03 GMT)

Zim spinners are gud in ODI's price will trbl aus if they dont run away with a start...but flip it arnd lee tait MJ bollinger and even hastings can smash zim off and all of them together whoosh pity zim dont have a streak or neil johnson nw..

Posted by   on (February 20, 2011, 22:48 GMT)

The three spinners Zim has are damn good im not sure what the skepticism is about.

Posted by 123papafrita on (February 20, 2011, 22:18 GMT)

Australia will definitely win this match, Haddins gonna get a big score, all of you reading this mark my words, Australia will win.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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