Coming into the Men’s T20 World Cup, not many had predicted that Zimbabwe would enter the Super 12 stage of the tournament, though they were riding on a new wave of results since July. After all, they were placed in a tough Group A of the first round which included two-time champions West Indies, Ireland and Scotland.
But Zimbabwe scraped through to defeat Ireland and Scotland to top the table and enter the Group 2 of the Super 12s. With confidence brimming and the goal of making Super 12s achieved, Zimbabwe were now in the pursuit of making life tough for the big teams clubbed alongside them.
Though their match against South Africa was washed out, Zimbabwe managed to stun Pakistan by successfully defending 130 and winning by one run. They had some disappointments too, losing by three runs to Bangladesh and comprehensively beaten by the Netherlands in a five-wicket defeat.
Now, looking back at their campaign ahead of their final match against India at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday, captain Craig Ervine wants to build upon the consistency shown by his team in the tournament for achieving bigger goals in the future.
“We knew that coming into this tournament, we had really good momentum. We got some great results leading into the tournament. The confidence and everything was up for us coming into the tournament and our main goal was to qualify for the Super 12s as well as still performing against some of the bigger teams.
“Going away from the World Cup, we want to take that sort of consistency with us. We know that the cricketing schedule is very busy going forward, so we want to keep this momentum that we have created. We have created a good support base now that many people are following Zimbabwe cricket. We want to try keep it that way and build on it going forward,” said Ervine in the pre-match press conference.
Against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe were close to making an upset victory and spice up the tournament. But their inability to score even a single run off the last two balls of the game, especially after no-ball was called when teams were already back in the dugout, was a pinching loss for Ervine and Zimbabwe.
“The loss to Bangladesh was very disappointing, especially to come so close. More so from the position that we were in, we were pretty much looked out of the game. But then Sean Williams and Ryan Burl together almost took us over the line.
“Then the last ball being a no-ball, and to come back on the field, you sort of sit back and think maybe we weren’t destined for it. It’s such a quick turnaround in this tournament. You can’t really sit and think if we had done this or that as there’s a next game which is few days away. So, we have to just kick on and look at the next game,” expressed Ervine.
With India coming into the match after surviving a scare against Bangladesh to win by five runs, Ervine is aware that with matches in the tournament going down the wire, no team can be ruled out of winning the game. Zimbabwe know it very well too, having stunned India by three runs in the 1999 ODI World Cup in England.
“For a lot of games, the World Cup has been really exciting because there’s been a lot of close games. One thing that we’ve learnt is you’re never out of it. If you can try and stay in the game and try and take it as deep as possible, you never know where it might take you.
“There’s a lot of different pressures that are at play in various games, so especially just trying to take the game as deep as possible and letting the other side panic before you do.”
Ervine signed off by hoping Zimbabwe can make improvements in fielding and losing wickets in a heap, especially in the power-play, in future. “There’s a few areas that we’d like to improve on. One is especially the fielding over the last couple (of) games, has let us down quite a bit. Also the powerplay, we’ve struggled a little bit on the powerplay.”
“We’ve lost a lot of early wickets and it puts quite a bit of pressure on the middle order. Losing those wickets in clusters has been our Achilles heel in the batting department, and then in the fielding department it’s mainly been our dropped catches and missed fields we need to tidy up on.”