Home » Sports » Zim Diasporans Host Cricketers

EVEN against the backdrop of the team’s failed campaign at this World Cup, the Zimbabwe community in Auckland still felt charmed by the way their heroes battled spiritedly, for the cause of their nation, and hosted a dinner for them here last night. The Zimbabwe cricketers are now on the last leg of their World Cup campaign where they impressed their fans, with their fighting spirit, despite failing at the very first hurdle yet again.

They bring the curtain down on their tour here, where they had targeted, at least, a quarter-final place, with a game against high-flying world champions India at Eden Park on Saturday.

Only their pride is now at stake, something that Brendan Taylor, who was the stand-in skipper in their last game against Ireland, was quick to point out would be defended with everything they can throw at the world champions.

“Well, it’s another opportunity to try and get all three departments right, and if we do that, there’s no reason why we can’t beat India,” Taylor said.

“We’ve beaten them before back home, so we have that belief we can do it. Yes, they’re one of the best teams in the world playing on a pretty small ground in Auckland, but it’s a great opportunity for us to be in the World Cup and showcase our talent and skills against the best in the world.

“There’s a lot to play for, a lot of pride at stake. We want to try to finish on a high note.”

Taylor, who was severely critical of the way his team performed at this World Cup, also wandered into the controversy related to Irish cricketer John Mooney and said his sharp criticism by The Herald was very unfair.

Mooney was the fields man who took the controversial catch which knocked Zimbabwe out of this World Cup, with a game against the Indians to spare, as Ireland powered to a nail-biting five-wicket win in Hobart on Saturday.

“On behalf of the Zimbabwe cricket team, we just want to express our apologies to Ireland Cricket and John Mooney for the unacceptable article,” Taylor wrote on Twitter.

The veteran batsman scored a century in that game but couldn’t take his team over the line as they came short by just five runs amid a haze of controversy.

That made a huge difference between the Zimbabweans plunging into the match against India, with an outside chance of making it to the quarter-finals, or turning up tomorrow for what will effectively be a dead rubber on their part.

However, there is a lot at stake as Zimbabwe would be out to become the first team to beat India, in 10 World Cup matches, and such an achievement will not only be celebrated around the globe but will confirm that, indeed, the Chevrons have been making steady progress since they arrived here for this tournament.

This country was their base when they arrived for their Pre-World Cup base where they impressed by beating Sri Lanka and then pushing New Zealand onto the ropes, before rain intervened, in warm-up games.

The Chevrons are back here again, for their swansong World Cup game, and they know all eyes will be on them with the Indians chasing all sorts of records in this match.

The Indians have bowled out every team they have played at this World Cup, including South Africa and Pakistan, and another g performance by their bowlers could put them in just the right frame of mind ahead of a derby quarter-final showdown against Bangladesh.

Their performance here has charmed an entire nation, of about a billion people, who had doubted their pedigree to make an impact after a poor tour to Australia in the days leading to this World Cup.

Indian Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, praised the team after they made it five wins in five World Cup matches following their eight-wicket victory over the plucky Irish in their last game.

“Superb all-round performance. Congrats Team India! Keep up the momentum,” Modi tweeted.

What this means is that even the Prime Minister wants them to maintain the high standards they have shown so far in this tournament and the Indians are unlikely to pull the foot off the pedal against Zimbabwe even though they are now assured of top place in Group B.

Indian fans have added colour to this World Cup, coming to their matches in huge numbers, and they are likely to be in full voice again as they cheer their team to what will even be a more impressive World Cup win, if they do it, than their triumph at home four years ago.

Look out too, for a noisy section of Zimbabwean fans, who will be at Eden Park, backing their men, even though their trip comes to an end now.

After all, as they demonstrated yesterday, the Zimbabwean community here still have the love for their team despite the challenges that it has faced where they have won just one of their five World Cup games.

Source : The Herald