Australia A win First 4-Day Match

A feisty ton by Elton Chigumbura helped Zimbabwe Xi reach the final session but was incapable of rescuing the team from a seven-wicket loss against Australia ‘A’ on the last day of the four day match held at the Country Club in Harare. Zimbabwe XI trailed the Australians by 75 runs at the close of play on the third day, with Keegan Meth and Hamilton Masakadza at the crease.

Zimbabwe scored 230 in the first innings after electing to bat first. The home skipper Vusi Sibanda led from the front with a patient 91 off 214 balls and his opening partner Tinotenda Mawoyo (39) helped see off the vicious Australian quick bowlers. In reply Philip Hughes scored 125 runs from 204 balls and his captain Tim Paine (98) narrowly missing a century in Australia’s 439 run offset, giving them a 209 run first innings. Brian Vitori was the pick of the Zimbabwean bowlers with figures of four for 86 in 22 overs.

Once again the openers handled the new ball with due diligence, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle gave no room for the pair to score, but they managed to form a 64 run opening stand. Hamilton Masakadza (91) and Elton Chigumbura put up a fight going at 5.18 an over for their 102 run partnership for the sixth wicket. Chigumbura was stumped after making a run-a-ball 108 featuring 14 boundaries and four sixes. Zimbabwe had a 137 run lead after being bowled out for 346.

David Warner almost replayed his quick fire innings during the two-day warm-up match in Kwekwe when he cracked two sixes and nine boundaries for his 82 off 57 deliveries. Australia comfortably scored 138 runs in 26.4 overs. Phil Hughes first innings knock was the mainstay of Zimbabwe’s downfall earned him the man-of-the-match award. Zimbabwe XI will play the last four-day match against Australia ‘A’ at Harare Sports club on Thursday. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe XI 230 (101.5 overs; Sibanda 91, Krejza 3/24) & 346 (103.1 overs; Chigumbura 108, Copeland 3/64), Australia A 439 (115 overs; Hughes 125, Vitori 4/86) & 138/3 (26.4 overs; Warner 82, Chigumbura 1/25). Australia A win by 7 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Zimbabwe XI Draw Tour Match with Australia A

This match took place in Kwekwe earlier in the week. On paper, a draw is nothing to be sneezed at - and batting out a full 90 innings on the second day probably counts as a worthwhile achievement - but with Australia A posting 427 from 90 overs compared to Zimbabwe XI's 306, it's clear who was on top. Some good signs from Zim's batting, though, with Regis Chakabva continuing to be fairly reliable, Forster Mutizwa seizing his chance to shine with a 70-ball 67, and Elton Chigumbura finaly showing some signs of form - just in time for the upcoming Test against Bangladesh - with 95 & the best of Zim's bowling figures as well (1/51). Full scorecard below the cut.
Australia A 427/4 decl (90 overs; Ferguson 156*, Chigumbura 1/51), Zimbabwe XI 306/9 (90 overs; Chigumbura 95, Beer 6/109). Match drawn.

South Africa 'A' Sail Through To Finals

Rilee Roussouw's 90 off 93 balls sealed a place for South Africa 'A' in the finals of the Coca-Cola Challenge Triangular "A" Series, after they beat Zimbabwe XI by 17 runs at the Harare Sports Club (HSC) on Wednesday. The victory means South Africa 'A' will meet Australia 'A' in the final match at HSC on Friday.

Zimbabwe made three changes in the squad which left Vusi Sibanda in charge of the team. Brendan Taylor, Raymond Price and Keagan Meth were replaced by Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller and Natsai Mushangwe. South Africa made one change of Rusty Theron replacing Ethy Mbalathi -this move eventually proved to be very fruitful for the visitors as he played a major role in the victory.

Roussouw came in at number three and top scored for South Africa, scoring his 90 with five boundaries and two massive sixes. His 78 run partnership for the fifth wicket with Vaughn van Jaarsveld (38) rescued the batting side from collapsing as they were 127 for four in just 32.5 overs. Zimbabwe managed to prevent the South Africans from repeating Tuesday's 298 target against Australia 'A' and kept them at 171/4 until the 40th. The tables turned as the South Africa scored 73 runs in the last ten overs and finished at 244/8 after 50 overs.

Brian Vitori was the pick of the Zimbabwean bowlers with figures of three wickets for 35 runs in nine overs. Former national team captain, Elton Chigumbura, also chipped in with 2/38 off his allotted ten overs.

Zimbabwe, though forming milestone partnerships, was bowled out for 227 runs after 43 overs. Vusi Sibanda (22) and Hamilton Masakadza (47) started the pursuit firmly with a 66 run opening stand. Regis Chakabva top scored with 50 from 54 deliveries and formed the highest partnership of 72 runs with Foster Mutizwa (39) for the third wicket.

Death bowl specialist Rusty Theron and fast bowler Craig Alexander demolished the Zimbabwean batsman sharing seven wickets between them, the bulk of the damage coming from their second spells that ripped Zimbabwe's middle order to undo the benefits of the two top order partnerships. The pair bowled their allotted ten overs and Alexander took 3/38 while Theron was the highest wicket taker of the match with 4/43.

Friday's game will be crucial for Jacques Rudolph and his men, as they go out to avoid a third consecutive defeat against the unbeaten Australian outfit. Full scorecard below the cut.
South Africa A 244/8 (50 overs; Rossouw 92, Vitori 3/35), Zimbabwe XI 227 (43 overs; Chakabva 50, Theron 4/43). South Africa A win by 17 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Australia A Seal Final Spot

Australia 'A' thumped Zimbabwe XI by four wickets with 58 balls to spare in a Coca Cola Challenge Triangular Series encounter at Harare Sports Club yesterday to seal their place into Friday's final. Zimbabwe XI, who are yet to win a match in this series, won the toss for the first time in the series and elected to bat first.

The move backfired as they were bowled out for a paltry 159 runs in 48.2 overs with wicketkeeper batsman, Regis Chakabva's 45 off 104 balls the only meaningful contribution. Left arm seamer Mitchell Starc and off spinner Nathan Lyon were impressive with the ball, both grabbing three wickets apiece as Zimbabwe XI failed to construct any meaningful partnerships.

Australia 'A' vice captain Calum Ferguson top scored for the visitors with 57 runs from 69 balls in a knock that included four boundaries and a six. Together with opening batsman Aaron Finch, ensured that they team reached their target comfortably as they took on Zimbabwe XI's opening bowlers Christopher Mpofu and Keegan Meth in the mandatory Powerplay.

The introduction of spin saw Zimbabwe XI's fortunes briefly being revived as off spinner Prosper Utseya took a wicket and a run out in the 15th over. He would later finish with impressive bowling figures of three wickets for 27 runs in 10 overs. Meth and part-time bowler Brendan Taylor and Meth chipped in with a wicket apiece in the mid-overs but by then the Australians where now way over the required run rate.

Ferguson and Trent Copeland, who was unbeaten on nine runs then easily, took their side over the finishing line. Zimbabwe will now hope that South Africa 'A' lose to the Aussies on Tuesday and hope that they convincingly beat their northern neighbours on Wednesday for them to book a place into Friday's final. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe XI 159 (48.2 overs; Chakabva 45, Starc 3/34) ,Australia A 162/6 (40.2 overs; Ferguson 57*, Utseya 3/27). Australia A win by 4 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Zimbabwe XI Narrowly Lose to South Africa A

It was a glorious case of two skippers and their wicket-keepers leading from the front in a heavily matched final ball decider between Zimbabwe XI and South Africa 'A' in the third match of the Coca Cola A series triangular challenge at Harare Sports club. South Africa left a crowd of well over 8,000 fans gusted in awe after Rusty Theron sealed the one run victory after dismissing Foster Mutizwa on the final ball.

South Africa 'A' won the toss and decided to bat first. Once again the Zimbabwean opening bowlers restricted the batting side to a low run rate, almost making ill of Jacques Rudolph's decision to bat first.

The remainder of the South African had the visitors submitting to the bowlers, three wickets fell for 52 runs by the 16th over; Prosper Utseya and Meth were at the forefront of the onslaught. Meth removed Loots Bosman (2) two balls after he had been dropped at mid on. A smart bowling change of introducing Utseya in the 12th removed Rilee Roussouw (5 and Justin Ontong (5) soon followed after a leading edge went back to Utseya.

Captain Jacques Rudolf was the star of an almost ordinary batting side as he patiently steadied the innings with a patient knock with his wicket-keeper Heino Kuhn. Rudolf finished off with 98 runs from 125 deliveries and only featured two boundaries from the knock. The pair built a 116 run partnership for the fourth wicket from 130 deliveries. Zimbabwe tightened the bowling only allowing for the odd boundary past the fielders. Rudolf was dropped at 31 but recovered and battled his way to his 50 which came off 71 deliveries with only one boundary. Utseya broke the partnership as Kuhn attempted to clear Craig Ervine at long off in the 36th over. South Africa was now in a more secure position at 168 for four.

Rudolph was unable to find another partnership with anyone in the middle order but South Africa managed to reach 238 runs for the loss of eight wickets. Utseya and Meth remained the pillar of Zimbabwe's bowling taking seven wickets between them, Utseya taking four for 49 in ten overs while Meth took three for 36 in ten overs.

Zimbabwe was previously struggled with a fragile top order but the last two matches have seen a turn of events and now the top order now has a knack for building decent partnerships. Vusi Sibanda (11) and Brendan Taylor (98) made on opening stand of 44 runs broken in the 12th over. Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza making 53 for the second wicket then Regis Chakabva (47) and Taylor made 65 for the third wicket.

Taylor led the chase in a mature and steady fashion similar to the South Africans' innings. His wicket-keeper, Chakabva, played a major supporting role as well rotating the strike while slowly piling the runs. Both teams looked at par for most of the match until the last ten overs when Zimbabwe was 154 for two -South Africa were 184 for four at the same stage thereby placing Zimbabwe in a precarious position where 8.5 runs were needed per over.

Much of the match's drama unfolded when Zimbabwe took the third power play in the 43rd over at 162 for three needing 77 to win from 48 balls. Former captain Elton Chigumbura hit two exquisite fours from the last two balls of the first over of the power play off Vernom Philander. He continued the onslaught in the next over by Rory Kleinveldt's, smashing him over the top for four. Chigumbura raced to 20 0ff just 12 deliveries in a knock that brought back memories of what he is capable of doing when he is at his best.

Craig Ervine (12) clouted a vital six in deep for his brisk 11 ball knock. The final episode to Zimbabwe's defeat came in the final over when ten runs were required in the final over with prosper Utseya and Foster Mutizwa in the middle and Rusty Theron bowling form the City End. Mutizwa took a single from the first ball, Utseya swung and missed the next ball and made up with a single on the third. The fourth ball gave Zimbabwe a glimpse of hope as Mutizwa cleared mid on with a pull shot. Theron placed the next ball in the block hall but Mutizwa managed to run two off it. Zimbabwe needed a single to tie the match and two to win. Theron bowled the same delivery this time a fraction more outside off stump and Mutizwa opened his stumps, strut forward swinging and missing giving Kuhn the easiest of stumpings. Full scorecard below the cut.
South Africa A 238/9 (50 overs; Rudolph 98, Utseya 4/49), Zimbabwe XI 237/7 (50 overs; Taylor 98, Philander 2/40). South Africa A win by 1 run.
[Match report via ZC]

Batting Collapse Hands Australia A Victory

Zimbabwe XI got off to a flyer in the opening match of their tri-series against South Africa A and Australia A, with the Aussies reaching a sub-par 232/8 from 50 overs after winning the toss and opting to bat. On a rare day where the spinner failed to exert their usual choke-hold (Ray Price went wicketless in his 10 overs, conceding 52), Chris Mpofu led the attack, taking 3/30 from his spell, while Keegan Meth, Elton Chigumbura, Prosper Utseya and Hamilton Masakadza each chipped in with one apiece. Superb fielding from Vusi Sibanda also helped account for the wicket of Steve O'Keefe, run out for just 2.

Nick Maddinson (63) and Callum Ferguson (52) had put on a good show for Aussies near the top of the order, but with few of their team-mates able to push on - Tim Paine's unbeaten 37 was the only other score of note - it was the Aussies who were under pressure for most of the innings. And who would have expected that.

That left Zimbabwe requiring 233 to win at 4.66/over from their innings - but once again, our batting inconsistency cost us once again. The top three of Taylor (17), Sibanda (37) and Masakadza (57) put in decent performances - it seems that a spell on the sidelines has done a world of good for Vusi and Hamilton, at least - but from there on down the only word is "woeful", as not one of the remaining players reached double figures. Their downfall was in no small part down to the combined efforts of Nathan Lyon (4/22 from 7 overs) and John Hastings (3/22 from 9), who had the measure of their opponents and simply took us to pieces.

After the early promise that our bowlers gave us, then, this can only count as a disappointing result - and given that it's the same old problem, all over again, has to raise questions about just what's being done to work around our batting fragility. Full scorecard below the cut; tomorrow's match is South Africa A v Australia A.
Australia A 232/8 (50 overs; Maddinson 63, Mpofu 3/30), Zimbabwe XI 142 (39 overs; Masakadza 57, Lyon 4/22). Australia A win by 90 runs.

Future Tours Programme 2011-2020 Released

The ICC have released their Future Tours Programme up until early 2020. You can find the full version on the ICC website (.pdf document), but here are the relevant bits for Zimbabwe:

July - August           Bangladesh in Zimbabwe          1 Test, 5 ODIs
September               Pakistan in Zimbabwe            2 Tests, 3 ODIs
October - November      New Zealand in Zimbabwe         1 Test, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is

January                 Zimbabwe in New Zealand         1 Test, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
August - September      Bangladesh in Zimbabwe          2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
December - January      Pakistan in Zimbabwe            2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is

March                   Zimbabwe in West Indies         2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
July                    India in Zimbabwe               3 ODIs
October                 Sri Lanka in Zimbabwe           2 Tests, 3 ODIs

June - July             Australia in Zimbabwe           3 ODIs
July - August           South Africa in Zimbabwe        2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
October                 Zimbabwe in Bangladesh          ODI Tri-Series (with Sri Lanka), 2 Tests
December                Zimbabwe in Pakistan            2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is

February - March        ICC World Cup in Australia & New Zealand
April - May             Zimbabwe in Sri Lanka           5 ODIs, 2 T20Is
June                    Pakistan in Zimbabwe            2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 1 T20I
July - August           West Indies in Zimbabwe         2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
October                 New Zealand in Zimbabwe         2 Tests, 3 ODIs

January - February      Zimbabwe in Bangladesh          2 Tests, 7 ODIs, 2 T20Is
March                   Zimbabwe in New Zealand         3 ODIs
March - April           ICC World Twenty20 in India
July - August           India in Zimbabwe               2 Tests, 3 ODIs
October - November      Sri Lanka in Zimbabwe           2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is

No fixtures

March - April           Pakistan in Zimbabwe            2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 1 T20I
June                    Zimbabwe in Australia           2 Tests, 3 ODIs
July                    Pakistan in Zimbabwe            3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
August                  New Zealand in Zimbabwe         3 ODIs
October                 Zimbabwe in South Africa        3 ODIs, 1 T20I

January - February      Zimbabwe in Bangladesh          2 Tests, 3 ODIs
October                 Zimbabwe in Sri Lanka           5 ODIs, 2 T20Is

March - April           Bangladesh in Zimbabwe          2 Tests, 3 ODIs

2017 is bloody strange, with no fixtures at all, while those with eagle eyes will notice the complete absence of England from the fixture list, at least as far as we're concerned. Other than that, it's probably as good as can be expected, with the weaker Test sides featuring far more heavily than the big boys - as was always the plan as part of our "staged return".

Zimbabwe in New Zealand Itinerary Released

Following the recent confirmation by the New Zealand government that they would not prevent Zimbabwe touring the country, New Zealand Cricket have posted an itinerary for Zimbabwe's scheduled tour, due to take place at the beginning of 2012. The tour includes one Test, 3 ODIs and 2 Twenty20 Internationals. Here are the dates:

26-30 January 2012     Only Test           McLean Park, Napier
3 February 2012        1st ODI             University Oval, Dunedin
6 February 2012        2nd ODI             Cobham Oval, Whangarei
9 February 2012        3rd ODI             McLean Park, Napier
12 February 2012       1st T20I            Eden Park, Auckland
14 February 2012       2nd T20I            Seddon Park, Hamilton

That'll be our first Test outside Zimbabwe in a loooong time...
[Source: New Zealand Cricket]

Squads for Tri-Series and Australia 'A' Warm-Up Match Announced

After confirming Taylor as captain, ZC seem to have thrown Vusi Sibanda a bone by naming him captain for a 2-day warm-up match against Australia 'A'. Here are the two squads:

Brendan Taylor (Captain), Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Keegan Meth, Christopher Mpofu, Forster Mutizwa, Raymond Price, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller.

Warm-Up Match against Australia 'A' (Kwekwe Sports Club, 11-12 July)
Vusimuzi Sibanda, Regis Chakabva, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Kyle Jarvis, Gregory Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Natsai Mushangwe, Forster Mutizwa, Njabulo Ncube, Tinashe Panyangara, Malcolm Waller.

The squad for the two 4-day matches against Australia 'A' will be announced in due course.
[Source: ZC]

Brendan Taylor Named New Zim Captain

This just in from ZC:

Following a Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) board meeting held at Harare Sports Club on Friday, the 24th of June, a spokesperson announced the new captain for the 2011/2012 season as Brendan Taylor. His first duty as captain will be to lead the team that plays Australia 'A' and South Africa 'A' in the triangular one day games this July.

Taylor has 11 One Day International half centuries to his name and a top ODI score of 145 not out against South Africa in 2010. He currently plays for the Kwekwe based franchise, Midwest Rhinos, a good all round player whose contribution during the World Cup series in March was invaluable.

"We have watched Taylor develop into a mature, experienced player and we stand fully behind him in his new role," said ZC managing director, Ozias Bvute.

Not the best of the choices available (Taibu, anyone?), but not the worst, either.
[Source: ZC]

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