Chigumbura urges top order to deliver

Elton Chigumbura has urged his top order to start delivering as his side look ahead to the daunting task of taking on co-hosts Sri Lanka in Pallekele on Thursday. Zimbabwe have a solitary win from three games - against Canada - to show for their efforts in the tournament so far, and they have been outplayed by both Australia and New Zealand.

But captain Chigumbura believes if they can get through the first 15 overs unscathed, his side stands a chance. Zimbabwe stuttered to 57 for 4 in 15 against Australia, 46 for 5 against New Zealand and 73 for 2 against Canada.

"We've been working on keeping our wickets in the first 15 overs, which we haven't done," Chigumbura said. "Our top order has been working on keeping their wickets in hand and to build their innings. Hopefully we do that tomorrow and if we do I am sure we can have a good game."

Zimbabwe have struggled against the pace of Australia and New Zealand, but Sri Lanka bring an entirely different examination with bowlers such as Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan. "It is a big challenge," Chigumbura said. "Most of their bowlers are matchwinners.

"We've been watching them play against other teams. If we keep our wickets in hand, I'm sure we can handle them a bit better. But if we lose wickets first up then it's going to be hard for us to come back in the game."

Zimbabwe's own strength has been spin and the reliance on it has been heavy. Of the 125.4 overs bowled by the side in three games, a staggering 101.1 - or over 80% - have been bowled by a variety of spinners. Thirteen of the 15 wickets taken by bowlers have been by spinners, Ray Price, who has opened the bowling during the tournament, and Grame Cremer leading the way with four each.

But the surface at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on which New Zealand and Pakistan played on Tuesday helped faster bowlers and wasn't as responsive to spin as might have been expected.

That might, said Chigumbura, force a tinkering of their strategy, but only a tinkering. "I saw the game yesterday and it was assisting seamers and not spinning a lot. I think it will remain the same.

"My spinners are more consistent. They are not big turners of the ball so it's not going to really affect them. It's just a matter of bowling a good line and length and they have been doing it for a long time. There might be one or two seamers, and we might try to make use of them. But after that we will mainly use our spinners."

Ireland's win over England over in Group B has pumped hope into the heart of all weaker teams and Chigumbura said the chance of an upset comes down to a question of belief. "Ireland always believed and so do we, obviously, but there might be room to improve. It is down to how much you want it. If you believe you can beat a bigger team, it's up to every individual to have that same belief.

"It gives me motivation when you see other teams who don't give up and end up winning. That teaches you it isn't over until it's over. If we correct our batting I always back my bowlers to defend any score of more than 260, and we're working on our batting."