Home » Sports » Zim Bullish Despite Skipper’s Absence

THE Zimbabwe cricket team are upbeat they will ride the storm triggered by the absence of injured skipper Elton Chigumbura and keep their World Cup alive with a win against unpredictable giant-killers Ireland at the Blundstone Arena here on Saturday.

Chigumbura was ruled out of the key game, Zimbabwe’s penultimate match of their Group B assignments and could be out of the final match against India in Auckland next week which, effectively, means he will be out of the World Cup unless the Chevrons qualify for the knock-out stages.

The all-rounder batted through the pain barrier in a defiant, yet unsuccessful, run chase against Pakistan as Zimbabwe lost their third game of this tournament while having positioned themselves into a winning position when they fielded.

Yesterday, team physiotherapist Anesu Mupotaringa told Zimbabwean journalists covering the World Cup at the team’s hotel, overlooking the Tasmania Sea, that Chigumbura was out of the tie against Ireland and struggling, though not out, of the match against India.

“He has a grade three muscle tear on the guard,” Mupotaringa said. “He is undergoing intensive treatment. For the Ireland match he will not make it and even for India, chances are slim.

“Probably, if we progress, then he might have a better chance of playing again in this World Cup.”

The skipper was the last man standing, as his team failed to chase what looked like a poor score by Pakistan, and despite his injury, he acquitted himself well as he tried to salvage the situation and power them to win.

But while his absence will certainly be felt, the Zimbabwean camp said they were confident they will have the right frame of mind and, crucially, the good replacement needed to fit into the skipper’s big shoes for the make-or-break tie against Ireland.

Brendan Taylor, the Test skipper who took over the captaincy responsibilities when Chigumbura left the field, is expected to lead the team again against an Irish side coming into this game after being put into their proper place by South Africa who powered to a huge 201-run win in Canberra.

Convener of selectors chairman, Givemore Makoni, said while losing Chigumbura was a huge blow, the team had the right replacements and it was up to those who will be asked to fill his big shoes to serve their nation well in a game that they can’t afford to lose.

“Losing Elton is a massive blow because it affects team balance moreso because he is the captain and he is the team leader,” Makoni said.

“Any team would suffer if they lost their captain.

“But we have a lot of experience in that regard because Prosper (Utseya) has been sitting out and he has captained the ODI team before.

“BT took over when Elton was injured against Pakistan, he did well, there was nothing new to him.

“I think he will continue in that capacity until Elton is fit to return.

“We have got about six guys who have been sitting on the subs bench, they have the hunger and so Elton’s loss has opened an opportunity for one of them to step in and show that they are capable.”

Makoni said the Zimbabweans were not yet out of this tournament and there was nothing that could stop the team from winning its last two matches and getting the ticket into the knockout phase of this World Cup.

But, he warned, the Irish will pose a huge threat on Saturday.

“This World Cup, we have seen how dangerous the Associate sides are,” said Makoni.

“Ireland is a good side and this match is going to be about who turns up and gets the basics right. It’s about doing the little things right.

“They (Ireland) are a good side but we are better, we just need to show up and get the basics right to win this match.

“Our World Cup is not over yet, we played four matches and we have shown that we are capable. We just need to take one step in the right direction and we will cause an upset (against India).

“Hopefully, it’s the next two games that we will get the results that match the good cricket we are playing.

“We know that if we can get certain things right we can beat India.”

Zimbabwe team manager Chris Chiketa said they had hammered home the point to their lads that the depression caused by the loss against Pakistan was now water under the bridge.

“We have told the guys that the last match is now water under the bridge. It’s time to focus on the next one. It’s a tournament and we are still in it.

“We have two matches to play, let’s take it one at a time, let’s win against Ireland and worry about India after.”

The Zimbabweans will be in the nets at the match venue today after training at the Kingston Oval in their last sessions since arriving in this part of Australia, an island off the mainland, with a rich history of cricket.

Ahead of their match against the Irish, they can take lessons from the Proteas who took the Europeans to the sword with another batting master-class as they posted 400 for the second straight game, the first team in the history of the World Cup to do that.

Hashim Amla, powered to his 20th ODI hundred in 108 ODI matches, a world record as he became the fastest batsman to reach that milestone, his 159 off 128 being his highest ODI score and, together with Faf du Plessis, who also got a century, they took the steam out of the Irish who had been rewarded with an early wicket.

“Zimbabwe is a big game for us,” Ireland skipper, William Porterfield, told journalists after the mauling at the hands of the Proteas.

Source : The Herald