Courtesy of Jeffrey Murimbechi, Media Manager
Zimbabwe concluded their World Cup campaign in rousing fashion with a heartening and much-needed victory by 161 runs against 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) launched the Zimbabwe innings above 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.
“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,” said selection convenor Alistair Campbel. 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. “I’ve learned a lot – it has been a great experience,” Ervine said after scoring his third half century in six matches. “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,” Ervine said.
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.
“It was a good way to finish the tournament,” said Chigumbura. “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.”