Zimbabwe v South Africa, Tri-series, Harare September 4, 2014

'Could have won if we supported Taylor' - Chigumbura

The sharing of videos via Whatsapp has caused some friction in the Zimbabwe camp recently, but there's a highlights package on Youtube that might have helped the team today. Famously, Netherlands chased down 190 in under 14 overs to progress to the Super 10s of the World T20 earlier this year and several kind souls have uploaded clips of that match on Youtube. When Zimbabwe were faced with the prospect of needing to chase down 272 in 25.2 overs in order to qualify for Saturday's final, they chose instead to focus on simply attempting to win the game. Unfortunately, that didn't work either.

"It would have been nice to just win the game," said Elton Chigumbura, Zimbabwe's captain. "We thought chasing 270 in 20-something overs was not realistic, so we might as well try and play to win the game, and also just try and do what we did against Australia - but with wickets in hand. Unfortunately it went the other way and we kept losing wickets.

"With the start we had it was chaseable, but after about eight overs when we'd started losing wickets it started getting harder and harder. We just left BT [Brendan Taylor] on his own. If we had supported BT, who knows, we could have put out a better performance."

Harare Sports Club isn't Sylhet, of course, and it's far harder to go at 10 an over against the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel than it is against Tim Murtagh and Alex Cusack. Netherlands also had the form of Stephan Myburgh to bank upon, while Zimbabwe's top six have been frustratingly inconsistent. Zimbabwe's bowlers, and particularly their spinners, have performed somewhat admirably in this tri-series, but their batsmen have not been able to pull together effectively.

"We had games that bowlers bowled well and it was just up to the batting group to support the bowling performance," said Chigumbura. "On the batting side, guys were playing well but in patches. We didn't play as a team to put up a good performance as a batting group. It was just maybe one or two guys putting up their hand and scoring 50s and more. If you could put those scores together in one game, that's what we're looking for. If we do that consistently, we'll win more games than we lose."

Chigumbura and his coach, Stephen Mangongo, will be pleased with the development of Zimbabwe's spin group, with John Nyumbu building upon his success in his debut Test match against South Africa and Prosper Utseya finishing as Zimbabwe's leading wicket-taker in the tournament with seven scalps at 25.71.

Only Australia's Nathan Lyon has taken as many wickets. Sean Williams has also progressed from a part-timer to a bankable third option, giving away just 3.87 runs an over. All three will be important on Zimbabwe's next engagement in Bangladesh at the end of October - and the entire team's experience against the might of Australia and South Africa should stand them in good stead.

"[This experience] has helped, but talking about Bangladesh - those are different conditions," Chigumbura said. "They play differently, so we have to adapt as well. But it's good for us to play games. The more we play, the better we'll understand our own game.

"The bowlers played a big part in all the games they played. I know in the first game we went for many runs, but looking at the wicket and also the score in the next game between South Africa and Australia, it was around 320 as well. So I thought the bowlers did well throughout the tournament, especially the spinners."

Zimbabwe's captain has also had the responsibility of guiding a couple of new players through their first steps in international cricket, with Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva and Donald Tiripano all coming into the squad. "You know, any team will have senior players, and senior players have to play that role to guide the youngsters coming through," he said. "So it's not just my responsibility, but also other guys who have been around and who have played in those conditions to help those youngsters that are just starting."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town