ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2011, Pallekele

Chigumbura sees positives in defeat

Osman Samiuddin in Pallekele

March 10, 2011

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The day before this game, Elton Chigumbura couldn't stop asking for his top order, and his openers in particular, to start performing. At least seven times in a short press conference, he stressed the need for Zimbabwe to go through the first 15 overs with wickets in hand, something they had failed to do against Australia and New Zealand.

Chigumbura got what he wanted against Sri Lanka, probably much more than he wanted. Charles Coventry was dropped and Regis Chakabva moved up to open with Brendan Taylor. For one ball short of 20 overs, in contrasting fashion, the pair took on Sri Lanka, and even rattled them a little. Taylor especially was a sight, driving with such authority and fluidity that he looked better than the two century-making openers of the day. Chakabva held up the other end, occasionally stealing a boundary, but mostly making Taylor look even better.

But once the first fell, the rest crumbled into a messy heap; ten wickets for 72 in only 19 overs. It isn't much good your top-order getting runs if the rest are going to fall like that. "Chasing a bigger score is always hard," Chigumbura said. "To maintain the run-rate especially with our team was going to be difficult. But it's something we can work on. Like I said yesterday, our openers played pretty well and putting on a hundred partnership is a positive for the team. Hopefully we carry on from that and improve on those weaknesses after that first partnership."

For those 20 overs and the last five of Sri Lanka's innings, Zimbabwe were on some kind of level footing. But for the business ends of any game, the start and the finish, they were nowhere. The surface was probably better to bat on than the one New Zealand and Pakistan played on, but the basic lack of incisiveness in Zimbabwe's attack came through. Until Chris Mpofu dismissed a tiring, flailing Upul Tharanga in the 45th over, they had gone nearly 80 overs without a single wicket, including the ten-wicket loss to New Zealand.

Brendan Taylor works one to the leg side, Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup, Pallekele, March 10, 2011
Brendan Taylor answered his captain's call for application at the top of the order © AFP

It didn't seem the kind of form - or surface - to win the toss and bowl on. "No regrets at all [on the decision to field]," Chigumbura said. The decision was made, Chigumbura said, based on the "the dew factor. With our spinners I thought it was going to be better to bowl first for our spinners to grip the ball. It was a good wicket to bat on. Dilshan and Tharanga both batted pretty well and like you saw with our batting, for the first 20 overs our opening batsmen played really well, so it was a good track to bat on. You can't really take three or four wickets first-up on that."

Theoretically Zimbabwe are not out of the race for the World Cup quarter-finals just yet. They will fancy their chances of beating Kenya and from the established sides in the group a schizophrenic and suddenly unsure Pakistan probably offer the widest glimpse of an upset. A 139-run defeat is as big as it seems but Chigumbura saw reasons to believe, in the attitude at least.

"It's a big loss but I think the approach that we took was positive," he said. "Though we were all out we were going for the score. If you wanted to play for a better score or better defeat we could've lasted 50 overs. But we were all positive going for it, so it's something we have to improve on where we went wrong today."

And in the bigger picture, for a side realistically aiming for a return to Test cricket sooner rather than later, experience of surfaces and conditions in India and Sri Lanka will be priceless. This was Zimbabwe's first ODI in Sri Lanka since September 2002 and the games in India their first since 2006. "Playing in these conditions your line has to be different from other continents and the way you have to bat, more straight than across. We've learnt that, but we have to apply all those things we have learnt and put it together for a good game against Pakistan."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Aussie on (March 11, 2011, 10:31 GMT)

Dilshan deserved the hat-trick. Mahela should have grabbed the chance.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 11, 2011, 8:09 GMT)

Elton sholud go home. He has failed to impress with both bat and ball. He sholudnt be in the team let alone be Captain. we have enough players far more deserving of the Captaincy than poor Elton.

Posted by Dru on (March 11, 2011, 5:40 GMT)

Who wins a toss on a flat deck and gives first use to the opposition? That was crazy as was the batting order and not including Coventry and/or Sibanda. Taylor was awesome which is probably the only thing to really take away from this game.

Posted by Nalin on (March 11, 2011, 5:39 GMT)

A Dilshan day good that you got your bat signed Vikram

Posted by Justin on (March 10, 2011, 23:25 GMT)

Coventry must be reinstated while Duffin and Sibanda must be included in order to boost the batting with Duffin to open with Taylor, Sibanda to slide into the number three slot and Coventry to come in lower down the order in a role he is more familiar with and in which he is more capable of delivering from.

Coventry is not an opener. Why the selectors and coaching staff have been unable to see this all along is beyond me.

Given the squad they have now, the XI I would choose for the remainder of the tournament is as follows:

Taylor, Duffin, Sibanda, C.Ervine, Taibu, Coventry, Chigumbura, Utseya, Cremer, Lamb, Price.

If the selectors and coaches can't get things right off the ground, how are the players supposed to get things right on the ground?

I am hoping they see the light before it's too late and make the necessary changes because if they don't it could spell the end of Zimbabwean Cricket.

Ireland to replace Zimbabwe in the next World Cup as a full ICC member?

Posted by Justin on (March 10, 2011, 22:54 GMT)

If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times, stick to and play to your strengths not your weaknesses, spin not pace.

If winning the toss and bowling in perfect batting conditions on a batsmen's paradise wasn't bad enough, including two pacemen in the side and opening with them and conceding 33 runs in the first three overs was, and it was game over after just 10 minutes of play.

The two pacemen conceded a woeful 113 runs off 13 overs, a run rate of 8.69 runs per over.

The batting is not much better, but like the bowlers I think the selectors and coaching staff have to take a large part of the blame for this.

The XI being picked from one game to the next continues to be lopsided with bowlers, all-rounders and wicket keepers and light-on with batsmen and to make matters worse the batsmen are batting out of order, whenever they are selected.

The continuing mistreatment and mismanagemet of Coventry is a disgrace.

Posted by Ahmed on (March 10, 2011, 22:35 GMT)

Elton has done a lot of talking. He needs to step up to the plate and show hes worth. Drop Chakabva and Panyangara. Bring in Coventry and Duffin. Our batting is always going to be our weakness so rather strengthen that and not the bowling.

Posted by Dr Satendra on (March 10, 2011, 20:10 GMT)

Comeback to form Elton. Drop Panyangara, include Coventry and thrash Pakistan. Kamran or no Kamran u can do it and what better day then on your birthday.

Posted by Lalith on (March 10, 2011, 19:26 GMT)

SL's middle order is still not good & Malinga was expensive and no wickets. I still do not see any consistency from SL. ZIM has a long way to become a test playing nation. Any thing can happen from QF's.

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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