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Zim Cricket ODI preview

by Prosper Tsvanhu
20 Nov 2014 at 12:49hrs | Views
Zimbabwe enter into the ODI series against Bangladesh having little in confidence after an emotionally bruising 3-0 whitewash in the Test series and an uninspiring 88-run loss during the warm up game at the hands of what effectively is Bangladesh's second string side.

Doubtless, spin will be the method of operation for the hosts in conditions that traditionally favor pace off the ball, and how Zimbabwe handles this threat will determine a favorable outcome for them.

Establishing the right personnel to take to the field will inevitably dominate the discourse inside the visitors change-room, mindful of the stubborn truth that there are players who are not succeeding in their main disciplines, the batting department being the worst affected by this truth.

There still lacks a stable opening combination that has in times past demonstrated skill to weather the initial onslaught and send positive signals back to the change room.

Sikandar Raza Butt's 'live by the sword and die by it' aggressive approach when he opens has had its pros and cons. Each time he marks center Raza's natural instinct is to take the attack to the opposition, and it looks good up to the point he gets into the 30's and 40's until he decides to go for one shot too many and needlessly gets himself out.

It is difficult to drop Raza because his 30 odd runs are actually more than what anyone else in the line up is offering, so he will have to continue in his 'throw caution to the wind' style of batting.

The challenge is who opens with Raza. In an ideal world Vusi Sibanda is the man, but for all his talent he has poor shot selection and fails eight times out of ten. Zimbabwe is not gifted with natural openers and each time the new guy in the team is handed the responsibility, a tactic which almost always sets up the debutant up for failure, Brian Chari being a case in point.

Given Regis Chakabva's recent Test form, the temptation is to turn to Regis Chakabva for that opener's slot. In any event, he seems to be the most plausible option strictly at the level of competence against the threat of spin and just generally hunger to succeed in any given situation.

This move will protect Hamilton Masakadza, who in many ways is the run-machine of the team, to come in at three and play the anchor role. Masakadza has also shown good form during this tour, more so a refreshing level of responsibility not only for the fortunes of the team but for the pride of the nation at large.

In all frankness, the same cannot be said about Brendan Taylor, who seems to have a lot on his mind when he comes out to bat. His talents are undoubted, and perhaps the pressure of not having any meaningful contributions in recent times will motivate Taylor to deliver the goods during the ODI series.

A lot has been said about Craig Ervine's middle-order prowess but since his return to the side it is yet to be seen. Ervine has been getting starts but failing to convert thereby exposing our brittle tail.

As for the rest of the batting line up there is Tymcen Maruma, Elton Chigumbura, Solomon Mire, Richmond Mutumbami, to choose from.

Elton Chigumbura will wear the captaincy cap this time around. He is an impact player with both bat and ball, and accordingly has to be put in positions consistently where he can influence the outcome of a match. Batting him at 6 is ill-advised, unless if it is after the 30th over of the innings. It is unfair to expect Chigumbura to come in and construct an innings because his style of play dictates that every delivery bowled to him should find the fence. He is at his best when he bats unburdened by how much time is left in the game.

In the absence of Prosper Utseya, John Nyumbu will have to take the lead role in the spin department, together with Tafadzwa Kamungozi is the selectors do decide to go the two spinners route. The seam department will have to call on the reliability of Tinashe Panyangara and the perseverance of Tendai Chatara, assisted by the young and untapped Neville Madziva. Solomon Mire is another interesting addition to the lot, as his successes in the Australian domestic circuit has warranted his consideration. Mire can hit the ball far and could come in handy at the back-end of the innings. His seamers are not the worst either.

Mushfiqur Rahim and his merry men are being called invincible and indestructible after the fine performances during the Test series, but these superlatives are premature.

Often Zimbabwe got themselves into good positions but could not finish off Bangladesh. Zimbabwe lacked penetration and aggression. This led to Bangladesh off the hook.

Good as the Tigers were, their job was made a lot easier by a Zimbabwe team which wasn't up for the fight. Zimbabwe will present a formidable challenge in the short format.

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Prosper Tsvanhu can be contacted at ch8minda@yahoo.co.uk


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Source - Prosper Tsvanhu

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