Zimbabwe eye unlikely progress
March 21, 2014, Sylhet
Start time 1130 (0530GMT)
This match could mean everything or it could mean nothing. It's a possible dead rubber before the final shootout, or the decider in a group that has been kept alive by Zimbabwe taking both their games to the final ball. They've provided excitement but their fate does not lie in their own hands.
To play in the main draw, Zimbabwe have to win their final match and win big. Then they have to hope Ireland succumb to a big enough defeat against Netherlands so that neither their run-rate nor Netherlands' trumps Zimbabwe. Calculators, rather than cricket equipment, could end up deciding who goes through.
Zimbabwe will see an opportunity to do the first of those things. UAE have not been the competitive force they would have hoped to be, and lost to both Netherlands and Ireland. But Zimbabwe will have to shake off the penchant to play to their opposition's level, convince themselves they are a few tiers above UAE, and march to a comprehensive victory to give themselves a chance. Even then, if that happens, all they can do is wait.
UAE do not stand to gain anything from this match but respect. They are out of contention to play with the big eight and have admitted they are team that is still learning. This is their chance to show what they've gleaned so far.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
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Brendan Taylor is the team's leading run-scorer, and Tinashe Panyangara, their leading wicket-taker, but Zimbabwe's silent assassins have also done an important job for them. Prosper Utseya opens the bowling and his spell against Netherlands showed how successful he can be upfront. He took 2 for 16 to set them back in the powerplay. Sean Williams has partnered twice to usher the batting line-up to a respectable score, although the pressure got to him against Netherlands. If he can overcome that, he can be a key middle-order man for Zimbabwe.
UAE have not had much in the way of individual achievement in this tournament. None of their batsmen have managed a half-century and only four bowlers have found themselves among the wickets. Rohan Mustafa is not one of them, but he does have the lowest economy rate among his team-mates. Mustapha has gone for only 5.56 runs an over and it's no fluke. His economy rate in domestic cricket is almost as miserly at 5.82. He'll hope he can translate that pressure into success in his final match.
Zimbabwe may still want to tinker with their opening duo after Sikandar Raza was out cheaply in both matches. With Vusi Sibanda in decent touch, he could be promoted back to a position he is comfortable in to make room for Malcolm Waller down the order. With Timycen Maruma acting only as a fielder in the last match, Zimbabwe may give Shingi Masakadza a game.
Zimbabwe: 1 Hamilton Masakadza 2 Sikandar Raza/Vusi Sibanda, 3 Brendan Taylor (cpt, wk), 4 Vusi Sibanda/Malcolm Waller, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Timycen Maruma/Shingi Masakadza, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Tinashe Panyangara, 10 Tendai Chatara, 11 Natsai Mushnagwe
For one last hurrah, UAE may look to mix it up a touch as they say goodbye to the tournament.
UAE squad: 1 Amjad Ali, 2 Faizan Asif, 3 Khurram Khan, 4 SP Patil, 5 Shaiman Anwar, 6 Amjad Javed, 7 Rohan Mustapha, 8 V Shetty, 9 Ahmed Raza, 10 Kamran Shahzad, 11 Sharif Asadullah, 12 Manjula Guruge, 13 Moaaz Qazi, 14 Rohit Singh, 15 Shadeep Silva
After a first match day in which 180-plus scores appeared par on the Sylhet surface, the second day's play at the venue saw much lower scores and more difficult conditions for batting. There was more turn on offer and the bounce was lower. Should it stay that way, even lower totals can be expected for Friday's matches. Rain brought an early end to the Ireland-UAE match and more can be expected between 3pm and 6pm on Friday with temperatures at a high of 29 degrees.
Stats and Trivia
"We need to regroup, have a good fielding session and come back on Friday and try and get all three departments right. If we do that, we are going to be tough to beat."
After Zimbabwe showed improvements in both batting and bowling against Netherlands Brendan Taylor wants to see them to do the same with their fielding
"We have not been exposed to such a stage so obviously we are going to learn a lot from here."
Khurram Khan hopes he will feel more schooled in international cricket after this tournament
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent