Brendan Taylor has blamed Zimbabwe's lapses in the field for their four-wicket defeat to West Indies in their Super Six match at the Harare Sports Club. Taylor became the first Zimbabwean to score 10 ODI hundreds as Zimbabwe reached 289, but his efforts were in vain as fifties from Evin Lewis, Shai Hope and Marlon Samuels ensured West Indies kept their qualifying campaign alive.
"We grafted hard and we felt we had a good total, but I don't think we were sharp enough in the field today," Taylor said. "The bowlers fought hard against a batting attack that thrives on boundaries and big hits, but we just leaked too many runs and that's been our downfall today."
Zimbabwe missed a handful of difficult catches in the field, while sloppy fielding gifted extra runs and run-out chances were not taken. "We leaked 20 or 30 runs in the field, and that's what hurt us," said Taylor.
The lapses took some of the shine off Taylor's hundred, which included 20 fours and two sixes. "It does [take the gloss off]," said Taylor. "You put in a big performance, and it makes it that much sweeter getting over the line knowing that you've contributed, for sure."
Zimbabwe decided to bat on a pitch which exhibited more pace and bounce than has become the norm on Zimbabwean pitches. While the pace in the pitch meant there was value for good shots, it also made the new ball a challenging prospect and Zimbabwe were reduced to, in effect, 30 for 3 when Cephas Zhuwao and Hamilton Masakadza fell early to Jason Holder, while Solomon Mire was forced to retire hurt after being struck by a Kemar Roach bouncer.
"I think it played into their hands a little bit," Taylor said. "It was slightly challenging the first hour this morning, and then got a little better to bat on. And certainly by this afternoon, it was a very good batting wicket."
Their defeat leaves Zimbabwe facing a must-win encounter against United Arab Emirates on Thursday. A win in that match will put them on seven points, guaranteeing their place in Sunday's final.
"We'll come back from [this defeat]", said Taylor." We know the importance of the game against UAE, who are a side that is developing. They've got some pretty handy players. For us, that's basically a final. We need to win that. It's pretty clear cut for us, we know what we need to do. And we need to be sharper than we were today."
Zimbabwe's narrow defeat was played out to yet another packed stadium, with Harare Sports Club filled to near capacity. Big crowds have been a feature of Zimbabwe's tournament, and Taylor suggested that free admission to games should be considered for future series.
"It's been great having a full house here at Harare Sports Club, and I think going forward, why not open up the gates to the public and let them come in? They're passionate about watching us play and supporting us. Instead of charging them a dollar or two dollars, which is a lot of money to them, get them in for free. It's great having them here, and it helps the players. We want to repay them by putting in the big performances and moving forward there's nothing better than playing in front of your home crowd with a packed house."