ZIMBABWE will face an uphill task to book a place in Saturday’s triangular cricket series final after Australia bounced back from Sunday’s shock defeat to the hosts to secure a bonus point win in their last round-robin encounter against South Africa at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Australia, who took their tally to 10 points, booked their place in Saturday’s final after a 62-run victory over South Africa, who remained on nine points.
The result left Zimbabwe, who are bottom of the table with four points, needing not only a bonus point win over South Africa at the same venue tomorrow, but to also significantly improve their inferior net run rate in the process.
South Africa has a net run rate of 0,118 in comparison to Zimbabwe’s -1,665 and considering the hosts’ recent struggles with the bat, it will take a miracle performance to turn the huge deficit around.
Zimbabwe had initially revived their chances of reaching the triangular series final after their shock three-wicket win over Australia at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
The hosts restricted Australia to 209 for nine in their allotted 50 overs before reaching 211 for seven to win by three wickets with 12 balls to spare for their first win over the Aussies in 31-years.
The win, which sparked wild celebrations throughout the country, gave the hosts a glimmer of hope of an unlikely appearance in the final, although they still needed their southern neighbours to do them a favour.
If South Africa had beaten Australia yesterday, it would have left the door open for Zimbabwe to qualify for Saturday’s final with a win in tomorrow’s final round-robin stage match against their neighbours.
Although Zimbabwe’s chances of qualifying for the final are almost non-existent, their match against South Africa will still be of huge significance to the hosts, who will relish the opportunity to play against a top side ahead of next year’s World Cup.
After the tri-series, Zimbabwe’s last opportunity of playing some competitive one-day internationals (ODIs) will come during their tour of Bangladesh starting on October 26.
The Stephen Mangongo-coached side will play three Tests and five ODI matches during the bilateral series which runs until November 28.