Test & ODI Matches

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ZC Confirm Squads for Kenya & Bangladesh Series

ZC have confirmed both the Zim XI squad for the Intercontinental Cup match against Kenya which got underway this morning (regular updates on our Twitter feed), and for the ODI series against Kenya and Bangladesh.

First up, the Zimbabwe XI squad:
Chamu Chibhabha, Regis Chikabvha, Kyle Jarvis, Friday Kasteni, Timycen Maruma, Shingirai Masakadza, Forster Mtizwa, John Nyumbu, Edward Rainsford, Vusi Sibanda (captain), Gregory Strydom, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Samuel Mwakayeni
While Sibanda has been named captain, though, early indications from Kwekwe are that he's not playing - seems rather strange, and I'll clarify that if I can. Meanwhile, the inclusion of Kyle Jarvis is a surprise, mainly as he has yet to make his first-class debut and is not playing cricket domestically.

Next up, the ODI squad:
Elton Chigumbura, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Trevor Garwe, Kyle Jarvis, Raymond Price, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Chris Mpofu, Forster Mutizwa, Tatenda Taibu (for Bangladesh tour only), Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya (captain), Mark Vermuelen, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams
Again the inclusion of Jarvis is a surprise, while Trevor Garwe gets what it probably an overdue call-up. It's possible that the squad will be revised before the trip to Bangladesh, depending on performances.
Source: ZC Media Release

Revised Schedule for Kenya Tour Issued

ZC have issued the revised schedule for Kenya's upcoming tour to Zimbabwe, which now includes 5 ODIs. Here it is:

7-10 October 2009	Zimbabwe XI v Kenya	Kwekwe Sports Club
12 October 2009		1st ODI			Harare Sports Club
13 October 2009		2nd ODI			Harare Sports Club
15 October 2009		3rd ODI			Harare Sports Club
17 October 2009		4th ODI			Harare Sports Club
18 October 2009		5th ODI			Harare Sports Club

[Source: ZC Media Release]

Kenya Tour To Be Extended

Kenya's tour to Zimbabwe looks set to be extended, according to CricInfo, with additional ODIs to be added to the schedule. With there already a very short gap between the current scheduled end of the tour and Zimbabwe's visit to Bangladesh, the extra matches will most likely be fitted in by bringing the start of the series, which includes Zimbabwe XI's Intercontinental Cup match against Kenya, forward. No revised schedule as yet, but we'll post it once we have it.
CricInfo - Zimbabwe offer Kenya extended ODI series

Kenya Tour to Zimbabwe Confirmed

Kenya's expected tour to Zimbabwe has now been confirmed, with one four-day match against Zimbabwe XI (part of the ICC Intercontinental Cup) and three full ODIs on the schedule. Here's the itinerary:

8-11 October 2009	Zimbabwe XI v Kenya		Kwekwe Sports Club
14 October 2009		Zimbabwe v Kenya: 1st ODI	Harare Sports Club
16 October 2009		Zimbabwe v Kenya: 2nd ODI	Harare Sports Club
18 October 2009		Zimbabwe v Kenya: 3rd ODI	Harare Sports Club

With Zimbabwe due in Bangladesh just a few days after this tour ends, it's going to be a busy period for the national side...

5th ODI: Zimbabwe Collapse Hands Bangladesh Victory

On a day when they should have been fighting for pride, Zimbabwe again managed to implode and handed Bangladesh an easy victory that saw them take the series 4-1. Zimbabwe won the toss and, on a pitch that was showing signs of wear, opted to bat, a decision that soon proved to be the wrong one as Bangladesh's seamers managed to get some movement out of the pitch that Zim seemed incapable of dealing with. 4th ODI hero Charles Coventry went for a 7-ball duck; Vusi Sibanda, given another chance to impress after failing to do so for quite some time now, went for just 2; and it wasn't until Brendan Taylor arrived at 7th that a stand began to form. He and Utseya steadied the ship, with Ray Price contributing a useful 46th at 9th. Taylor eventually managed 61 before departing, and it it hadn't been for that trio complete humiliation would have been on the cards. As it was, Zimbabwe were bundled out for a well below-par 209 in the 47th over. Dolar Mahmud took 4/28 as he piled the misery on the Zimbabweans.

In reply, Bangladesh never seemed troubled, while Zimbabwe's bowlers had great difficulty making any breakthroughs. Even when wickets did fall, they were usually followed by another useful partnership that saw Bangladesh ease towards their target with very little pressure placed upon them. Mushfiqur Rahim played a large part in securing the win, scoring 98 - and he genuinely did deserve the ton, only to be denied by Ray Price, whose 2/21 was the best of the Zim bowling and enough to make him the top wicket-taker in the series.

A very disappointing outing for Zimbabwe, then, but there appears to be plenty of cricket coming for the senior side over the next few months, with West Indies looking likely in the next few weeks, to be followed by trips to Bangladesh and, apparently, Sri Lanka before the end of the year. All that will remove "match practice" from Zimbabwe's list of excuses and hopefully see us finally performing to potential.

Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 209 (46.4 overs; Taylor 61, Dolar Mahmud 4/28), Bangladesh 212/5 (47.5 overs; Mushfiqur Rahim 98, Ray Price 2/21. Bangladesh win by 5 wickets.

Provisional Fixtures for Zim Tour to Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Cricket Board have released the following provisional schedule for Zimbabwe's upcoming tour to Bangladesh:

25 October 2009		Warm-up Match		Mirpur
27 October 2009		1st ODI			Mirpur
29 October 2009		2nd ODI			Mirpur
31 October 2009		3rd ODI			Mirpur
3 November 2009		4th ODI			Chittagong
5 November 2009		5th ODI			Chittagong
7-10 November 2009	Bangaldesh A v Zimbabwe	Mirpur

Coventry Fireworks Not Enough to Save Zim

Charles Coventry may have rattled up a record-equalling 194 not-out in the 4th ODI against Bangladesh, but with the rest of the Zimbabwe team failing to follow his example it wasn't enough to prevent the home side sliding to another loss - and in the process handing Bangladesh an unassailable lead in what both coach Walter Chawaguta and captain Prosper Utseya had labelled a "must win" series.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Zimbabwe suffered their usual batting woes. Coventry was in imperious form, coming in at third to steady the innings after the early departure of Mark Vermeulen and playing an attacking and yet sensible game, but while he powered his way to 194 not-out - equalling the highest individual ODI score in the process - the players around him only ever played cameo roles, with only Stuart Matiskenyeri (37) and Hamilton Masakadza (21) passing twenty. Zim reached 312/8 from their 50 overs, but on a pitch that was a batting paradise that was still some way short of the safety mark, and the failure of most of Zim's batsmen to kick on, combined with a mid-innings lull that saw almost 10 overs pass without a boundary, would soon come back to haunt the home side.

The Bangladesh reply took the slow & steady approach - with Zim's bowling attack having real problems breaching the batsmens' defences, the visitors were able to work patiently on building their total, led by a determined and composed innings by Tamim Iqbal, who looked on course to overshadow Coventry's efforts before finally holing out for 154. With wickets kept in hand, the side were able to take their chances in the closing overs without fear of being bowled out, finally overhauling their target with 13 balls remaining to win by 4 wickets. Ray Price was the most successful of the Zimbabwean bowlers, taking 3/60, while only he and Prosper Utseya managed an economy rate of lower than 7/over - too costly an attack, under the circumstances.

That leaves Bangladesh assured of the series win, with a 3-1 lead and only one match to play, and Coventry holding the inenviable record of largest individual score in a losing cause. As ever, there's a post-mortem being carried out in the forums, with discussion split between blaming the players and blaming the processes that support those players - an interesting read, at least. For now, though, Zimbabwe have to look forward to the final ODI on Tuesday, when all that's at stake is pride. Full scorecard for this match is below the cut, and we'll see you on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe 312/8 (50 overs; Coventry 194*, Enamul Haque jnr 2/52), Bangladesh 313/6 (47.5 overs; Tamim Iqbal 154, Price 3/60). Bangladesh win by 4 wickets.

3rd ODI: Zim Score 69-run Win

After Walter Chawaguta's pre-series talk about this being a "must win" series, he'll have been more than concerned going into today's do-or-die match, where only a win will keep the series alive for the home side. Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat, which normally wouldn't favour Zimbabwe - they've played far better in recent times chasing targets than setting them, and the early wickets of Vusi Sibanda and Mark Vermeulen left Zim facing a familiar story of a batting collapse. The 3rd-wicket pairing of Hamilton Masakadza and Charles Coventry settled the ship, though, as they put on 43 runs before Coventry was unfortnately run out - and from there, the run began. Masakadza went on to score 102, his maiden ODI century, forming a useful partnership with Brendan Taylor before getting carried away; Taylor then joined forces in a devastating spell with Elton Chigumbura, who added an unbeaten 61 from just 33 balls. A late-innings cameo from Stuart Matsikenyeri (23 off 9 balls) helped see Zim reach 323/7 at the end of their innings - their first completed innings of the series, although a target that wasn't out of range.

In reply, Bangladesh got off to the worst possible start as Tawanda Mupariwa, in his first ODI at Queens, removed in-form Tamim Iqbal with the first ball of the innings. It wasn't until the 5th-wicket stand that Bangladesh were able to stand firm against the Zimbabwean attack, with even part-timers Malcolm Waller and Elton Chigumbura managing to keep their opponents in check. Raqibul Hasan (78) and Mahbubul Alam (59) provided some resistance in the lower orders, and could well have swung the match it one of them had managed to stay at the crease, but in the end it wasn't enough and Bangladesh were bowled out for 254.

That still leaves Zimbabwe on the wrong end of a 2-1 series scoreline, and having to win both remaining matches to win the series - but after today's performance, that's not looking as unlikely as it once did. Full scorecard for the match is below the cut, and see you Sunday for the 4th ODI.
Zimbabwe 323/7 (50 overs; Masakadza 102, Taylor 94, Chigumbura 61*, Shakib Al Hasan 2/65), Bangladesh 254 (44.2 overs; Raqibul Hasan 78, Mupariwa 3/32). Zimbabwe win by 69 runs.

2nd ODI: Zim Hand Bangladesh Another Win

Once again, the forums are playing host to a post-match postmortem, as Zimbabwe fell to another defeat in the 2nd ODI in Bulawayo, giving Bangladesh a 2-0 lead in the series with 3 matches to play.

Zimbabwe won the toss and, given our traditional strength in chasing rather than setting totals, opted to field. After an expensive few early overs, the arrival of the spin attack saw the run-rate arrested, but wickets were hard to come by - it's telling that 4 wickets in the Bangladesh innings came by run-out, wickets gifted by Bangladeshi failings rather than by bowling skill. Zim's weakness in attack were further shown up by Shakib Al Hasan, who made full use of the batting powerplay and knocked 104 off 92 balls to help power Bangladesh to 320 off their 50 overs - the side's highest total in one-day internationals. Tamim Iqbal also contributed a useful 79, but it was Zimbabwe's poor bowling rather than good Bangladeshi batting. 8 overs assigned to part-time bowlers contributed 80 runs, and a number of chances were missed in the field. Whether this was down to poor captaincy or poor form is a matter for debate.

In reply, Zim did manage to put in a much-improved batting performance - the side were never out of the chase, they just ran out of batsmen before managing to reach the target. After being the star of the first ODI, Mark Vermeulen failed to fire this time out, but he was ably covered for by Charles Coventry, who scored an impressive 61, and Sean Williams, who reached 75. Chamu Chibhabha and Brendan Taylor both fell cheaply, which didn't help the cause, but once again it was some suspect decisions by captain Prosper Utseya that sealed Zimbabwe's fate - only allowing big-hitting Elton Chigumbura to come in at 9th, for example. 'Boom Boom' was the last wicket to fall, leaving Zim 49 runs short of the target.

There are still 3 matches left, and Zimbabwe are clearly improving, meaning there's still hope of the home side winning the series - but some tweaking of the side is still necessary, and there's some discussion in the forums about how that may be done. Time is running out, though - Zimbabwe need to win the next three matches to save pride, and for as strong as this side is on paper, it's not looking likely that they'll be able to manage that. Full scorecard for this match is below the cut, and we'll see you for the next match on Friday.
Bangladesh 320/8 (50 overs; Shakib Al Hasan 104, Chigumbura 3/59), Zimbabwe 271 (46.1 overs; Williams 75, Shakib Al Hasan 2/39). Bangladesh win by 49 runs.

1st ODI: Vermeulen Shines as Zimbabwe Fail

If anyone was worried by the poor performances of senior squad players in yesterday's warm-up match, then those worries came home to roost today as Zimbabwe fell to an 8-wicket loss in the first ODI against Bangladesh, despite fielding the best side to wear Zimbabwean colour since the initial departure of Heath Streak and co in the original player dispute. Ironically, it was one of the returning 'rebels' from that 'golden era' who was the only Zimbabwean to put up any resistance - put into bat after Bangladesh won the toss, Mark Vermeulen completed a remarkable comeback to the national side by beating his own previous ODI best, scoring 92 & cementing his place in the side. With no-one else managing to pass 20, it was a solitary good performance, though, as misplaced aggression and poor shot selection saw Zimbabwe fall to 207 as the side were bowled out in the 48th over. Nazmul Hossain took 3/29 to lead the bowling figures for Bangladesh.

For this match, Zimbabwe opted to forgo a reliable pace attack, instead concentrating on the spin trio of Ray Price, Graeme Cremer and Prosper Utseya - part-time bowlers Elton Chigumbura and Chamu Chibhabha were the sole pace options, and that decision came back to haunt the side as the bowling had no answers for a confident Bangladesh side. Mohammad Ashraful knocked an impressive 103 not-out off 103 balls, leading the visitors' charge as they chased down the target in less than 35 overs, and for the loss of only two wickets.

The match points out a few glaring issues. While the side the took the field today was strong, there were issues that affected the side's performance:
1. Pace bowling. Heath Streak made the point before the series that the pitch at Queens Sports Club is not as spin-friendly as that at Harare Sports Club, and that pace should be a key part of the side's attack. Despite this, our two main pace bowlers - Ed Rainsford and Tawanda Mupariwa - were omitted from the side. They need to be back in the picture for the 2nd ODI.
2. Lack of match practice. Zimbabwe haven't played a competitive match since the series against Kenya at the beginning of the year, while Bangladesh come into the series fresh from morale-boosting series wins in the West Indies. That now appears to have been a fatal error - and to compound the issue, the one warm-up match was played at Bulawayo Athletic Club, where the pitch is noticeably different from that at QSC. You can have all the team-building get-togethers at Victoria Falls that you want, but the team needs to play together.
3. Playing all matches in the series at one location may also turn out to be a mistake, for two reasons. First, the side's record is simply better at Harare Sports Club. Second, many of the players will not have played at QSC in quite some time - it's been several years now since the ground hosted an international match, while with last year's Logan Cup being played fully in Harare most of the senior side haven't played there in any long form cricket for two years or more.

It's too late now for two of those three problems to be addressed, sadly. Selection of a proper pace attack is all that Alastair Campbell and his fellow selectors can do now. It'll be Tuesday and the 2nd ODI before we see if they choose to do that. See you then. Full scorecard for this match is below the cut.
Zimbabwe 207 (47.5 overs; Vermeulen 92, Nazmul Hossain 3/29), Bangladesh 211/2 (34.3 overs; Mohammad Ashraful 103*, Chigumbura 1/33. Bangladesh win by 8 wickets.

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