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]
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]
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.
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]
ZC Managing Director Ozias Bvute has spoken to explain ZC's withdrawal of an invitation to tour from Cricket Ireland. CI had been hoping to play a 4-day match and 3 ODIs against Zimbabwe later this year, until the invitation was withdrawn citing fixture congestion. Bvute clarified in an article carried in The Herald:
"Zimbabwe has a full international and domestic calendar this season and we are not obliged to play against Ireland. Our offer to arrange playing opportunities with them is spearheaded by nothing less than the spirit of sportsmanship and inclusion. With the Australian and South African A sides, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan all having confirmed to tour Zimbabwe between June and November this year there is simply no slot available to accommodate them in 2011."
"It is very unfortunate that recent media reports aim to portray Zimbabwe as unwilling to play against Ireland and insinuate that the reason is based on an attempt to ostracise them. Zimbabwe has suffered greatly from the politics of exclusion and we would not wish that on any one."
Can't help but think that "we are not obliged to play" comment will come back to haunt him some day. Many sides have played Zimbabwe over the past few years who were "not obliged to play", and our already-sparse fixture list would have been very bare without them - I can't help but think we should be returning the favour.
The Herald - Bvute on schedule
UPDATE: Both Zimbabwe Cricket and Cricket Ireland have been speaking further regarding the purported withdrawal of Zimbabwe's invitation to Ireland to tour, and it seems that "withdrawn" is not the word we should be using. A press release issued by ZC this afternoon states that an alternative date is currently on the table:
Cricket Ireland can confirm that when they toured here in September we voluntarily made them an offer to arrange fixtures against them and have since been in communication with their administrators. Our last correspondence proposed January 2012 as a possible date.
Meanwhile, Cricket Ireland's Chief Executive, Warren Deutrom, has spoken out in support of ZC and Ozias Bvute in the matter, in comments reported by CricInfo:
"In the recent Chief Executives Committee meeting, [Ozias Bvute] was extremely supportive of the associates and spoke out strongly in their favour. There is nothing sinister in this whatsoever. We were initially in conversation about travelling to Zimbabwe at the end of the year, but as one of the smaller Full Member nations, they have to wait for the bigger members to organise their own schedules. Simply, there was a clash between the time we wanted to come down, and the contractual obligations they are required to fulfil through the FTP."
So, I back down somewhat from my earlier disappointment over the situation, and hope that the two boards can reach agreement over tour dates sooner rather than later.
CricInfo - Zimbabwe are not the enemy, confirms Ireland chief
You may recall we reported a while back that the Times of India had reported that Zimbabwe's World Cup opener against Australia had been the subject of an investigation by the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit, on the basis of Australia's low run-rate. The ICC made no comment at the time, but the ToI repeated the allegation in an article (now withdrawn) posted yesterday, which did draw a response in the form of a statement from ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat, carried on the ICC website:
Following the publication of a false article by the Times of India correspondent Mr Prashant Dayal in the Ahmedabad edition on Tuesday, ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has made the following statement.
"An article by Mr Dayal in yesterday's newspaper made a number of claims about an ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 match between Australia and Zimbabwe that can only be described as fictional.
"We do not comment on the activities of the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) and for good reason. However, after several misleading and downright false stories appearing in recent weeks it is time for us to show our displeasure and expose those responsible for affecting the integrity of the media.
"It is also patently false of the reporter to claim that the ICC ever suggested to it that the match was corrupted. The ICC confirms that, in terms of its policy, at no stage did anyone from the ICC speak to the journalist on this topic.
"To uphold the integrity of the media I expect Mr Dayal and the Times of India to retract such baseless stories."
The Times of India have since issued a retraction (in their paper edition, not on their website but quoted on the ICC website):
"The Times Of India carried a story on its website on March 22 alleging that the match between Australia and Zimbabwe had been spot-fixed. We apologise to Australia, Cricket Australia and the ICC for any embarrassment caused by this. We also accept that at no stage has the ICC ever confirmed or suggested the match was fixed. The story has since been taken off the website."
Wot, no apology for Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe concluded their World Cup campaign in rousing fashion with a heartening and much-needed 161-run victory over Kenya at what many people believe to be the modern 'home of cricket,' Eden Gardens in Kolkata, on Sunday.
It wasn't enough to earn a place in the knockout stages of the tournament but it was just the tonic needed by a disappointed squad of players and their equally disappointed fans who had hoped for so much before the tournament began. Half centuries from Vusi Sibanda (61), Tatenda Taibu (53) and Craig Ervine (66) helped push the Zimbabwe innings past 300, and the game was effectively ended before the run chase had really started when the Kenyans collapsed to 44/5 in reply.
All five bowlers used were amongst the wickets with spinners Ray Price, Greg Lamb and Graeme Cremer each claiming a brace while Sibanda and skipper Elton Chigumbura highlighted a sparkling fielding performance with brilliant run outs. Selection convenor Alistair Campbell was pleased with the result:
"It doesn’t matter that it was against Kenya who are ranked below us, the fact remains that the team got everything together and proved to themselves what they are capable of when the batting and the bowling click together on the same day."
Sibanda was a revelation with the bat having only joined the squad as a replacement two weeks ago while Taibu's calm head and maturity was just what was required after the early loss of openers Brendan Taylor (26) and Reggie Chakabva. But it was Ervine's flowing start and blistering finish which took the game away from Kenya and ensured him of the man-of-the-match award for an innings of 66 from just 54 deliveries with nine fours and a towering six which landed 20 rows deep in the famous stadium. It was Ervine's third half-century in six matches:
"I've learned a lot – it has been a great experience. Most of all I’ve learned how much more work there is to be done before I can hope to be consistent against the best teams in the world. But I’m prepared to do that work – we all are>"
Chigumbura, too, swatted a six over long off in his cameo innings of 38 from 41 balls while both Utseya and Lamb showed a hitherto unseen ability to clear the boundary with a six apiece at the death of the innings which saw them finish unbeaten on 19 and 17 from just six and 10 balls respectively.
Chris Mpofu struck with the fifth ball of the first over when Kenya began their unlikely pursuit of 309 for victory and new ball partner Price followed up with further wickets in the eighth and 12 overs to leave the innings in ruins. Captain Elton Chigumbura clearly enjoyed the result:
"It was a good way to finish the tournament. The next three months will be very important to us as we prepare for a couple of tours at home and our return to Test cricket. We need to remember the way we went about things, especially the bat, and try to work on those things and make them even better."
Full scorecard below the cut. Zimbabwe now get a few months' break from competitive cricket - the next matches on the schedule are an 'A' tri-series against South Africa and Australia, with the next full international match being the side's return to Test cricket, against Bangladesh in August.
Zimbabwe 308/6 (50 overs; Ervine 66, Otieno 2/61), Kenya 147 (36 overs; Odhiambo 44, Price 2/20). Zimbabwe win by 161 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
Cricket Australia have named a provisional 24-player squad for their upcoming 'A' tour of Zimbabwe, which will comprise a one-day tri-series against Zimbabwe XI and South Africa 'A', followed by 2 four-day matches. The squad will be trimmed in May. National Talent Manager Greg Chappell commented on the squad:
"The NSP has today announced a 24-player provisional squad for the mid-year tour to Zimbabwe. We have given the provisional squad advanced notice for this tour to allow them sufficient time to prepare for the series pending selection in the final squad.
"The Australia A program in recent years has played a big role in readying athletes for the rigors of international cricket, with players such as Tim Paine, Callum Ferguson, Cam White and Mitchell Starc all coming in to the Australian setup at varying times over the last couple of years and having an impact.
"This group is a cross section of the best young players in the country. Some of them have already had a taste of international cricket and show signs of being among those that will be the backbone of our teams in the future, while the others have shown enough in domestic cricket to suggest that they are the type of cricketer that we will need to be able to challenge India, South Africa, England and Sri Lanka for supremacy in the next few years.
"This tour is an important one as they continue their development and will give all players selected in the final squad in May an opportunity to push for higher honours.
"With the new World Test Championship and the new ODI ranking periods beginning straight after the ICC Cricket World Cup and with tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa later this year and New Zealand and India touring Australia next summer, it will be a great opportunity for these young players to show their skills and put their name forward to be part of this challenging period for Australian cricket."
The full squad is: George Bailey, Michael Beer, Luke Butterworth, Trent Copeland, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Callum Ferguson, Aaron Finch, Peter George, Jon Holland, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Nicolas Maddinson, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Stephen O'Keefe, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
This series will be the curtain-raiser to a very busy international schedule for Zimbabwe this year and, after the senior side's performance in the World Cup, may well be used to identify a few players from the lower tiers of the game who may be given a chance to step up. It should be well worth watching.
Cricket Australia - Provisional Aus A squad named for Zimbabwe
Needing a win to ensure their continued participation in the World Cup (and relying on run-rate even then), Zimbabwe's batting again imploded in their rain-affected match against Pakistan, who eased to a seven-wicket win to secure their own place in the next round. Batting first after winning the toss, Zimbabwe quickly found themselves on 13/3, a start which essentially ensure the ensuing defeat. After talking in a pre-match interview of his disappointment with the performances of the other top-order batsmen, opener Brendan Taylor managed just 4 before heading back to the pavillion; Regis Chakabva (0) and Vusi Sibanda (5) soon followed. Craig Ervine (52) and Elton Chigumbura (32*) put some fight back into the innings further down the order, but two rain interruptions didn't help - the second of those interruptions spelt the end of Zimbabwe's innings, at 151/7, and left Pakistan facing a Duckworth-Lewis target of 162 from 38 overs.
The early departure of Ahmed Shehzad (8) gave Zimbabwe some ray of hope, but despite another impressive performances from the spinners and excellent fielding work the target was low enough to ensure that Pakistan didn't have to push too hard to chase it down. Two further wickets were lost, with Price playing a role in all three - he took 2/21 from his 8 overs, and took the catch that secured wicket #3 for Prosper Utseya (1/24) - but while it was a fighting performance in the field the target the batsmen had left them to defend just wasn't good enough, and Pakistan reached their target with almost 4 overs to spare.
That leaves Zimbabwe's final match against Kenya on Sunday a purely pride affair, for the title of 2nd Best Side in Africa, while Pakistan go on to the quarter-finals. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 151/7 (39.4/50 overs; Ervine 52, Umar Gul 3/36), Pakistan 164/3 (34.1/38 overs; Asad Shafiq 78*, Price 2/21). Pakistan win by 7 wickets (D/L method).
Zimbabwe succumbed to a brilliant all round display by Tillekeratne Dilshan in the fourth match of the ICC World Cup in Palekelle on Thursday losing by 144 runs as the Sri Lankan opener blazed a century and then claimed a career best four wickets for just four runs with his occasional off spin. Dilshan hammered his runs from just 131 balls and shared a World Cup record opening stand with fellow centurion Upul Tharanga who crafted a marginally more sedate 133 from 141 deliveries with 17 fours.
Zimbabwe's decision to bowl first surprised many observers but with an attack comprising four spinners, captain Elton Chigumbura felt he had no option given the amount of dew which forms on the outfield after sunset in this picturesque, mountain city. "In order for them to grip the ball and be most effective we needed to use the dry conditions in the first innings but the plan didn't work and they batted extremely well," Chigumbura said afterwards.
Tinashe Panyangara's selection as a second frontline fast bowler alongside Chris Mpofu backfired immediately when his first over cost 18 runs and the home side were off to a flying start. Indeed, with 77 runs on the board after just 10 overs and rapid progress maintained by the openers for much of the innings, Sri Lanka seemed set for an even larger total until the spinners regained some control towards the end and stemmed the scoring rate. Mpofu collected four quick wickets in the final overs when the slog was on to finish with figures of 4-62 from his seven overs.
A target of 328 for victory was always likely to be a challenge too far for Zimbabwe although Brendan Taylor's brilliant 80 from just 72 balls during an opening stand of 116 with the composed and organised Reggie Chakabva (35 from 61 balls) briefly gave the underdogs hope. Taylor's shot selection and execution was as good as any seen from an opening batsman during the tournament so far but when he was dismissed, caught pulling a slower ball to mid wicket, the rest of the batting suffered an all-too-familiar collapse.
"It was especially disappointing to lose in that way after such a good start," said batting coach Grant Flower. "Brendan batted beautifully but we needed more contributions to sustain the run chase. It didn't happen and we're all very upset about that."
Zimbabwe's last chance of gaining entry into the quarter finals now rests with an upset victory against Pakistan in their penultimate match against Pakistan at the same venue on Monday and an overwhelming win against Kenya in their final match in Kolkata on March 20. Full scorecard for this match is below the cut.
Sri Lanka 327/6 (50 overs; Dilshan 144, Mpofu 4/62). Zimbabwe 188 (39 overs; Taylor 80, Dilshan 4/4). Sri Lanka win by 139 runs.
[Match report via ZC]