IRELAND coach Phil Simmons believes that nothing separates Zimbabwe and his team at the moment and the team that executes better tomorrow, when the two clash in their Group B ICC Cricket World Cup contest at the Bellerive Oval, will win the match.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN HOBART, AUSTRALIA
The former Zimbabwe coach, who only lasted about a year in his job before he was sent packing, said that unlike other matches at this World Cup where odds were tilted in favour of one team, this is a game where the team that turns up on the day will win.
“This is a game more than the ones we have played so far where I think it’s about who turns up to execute well on the day,” the former West Indies all-rounder said.
“Zimbabwe has been playing well and we have also been playing some good cricket. So it’s a case of who executes better on the day.”
Ireland are pushing to make it through to the quarter-finals having registered a morale-boosting win over West Indies as well as beating the United Arab Emirates. They currently have four points while Zimbabwe have just two.
They, however, fell victim to a crushing defeat to South Africa this week, but Simmons said the team would be able to lift themselves out of that hole and play well against Zimbabwe, adding that there was no added pressure to win against the Dav Whatmore-coached Zimbabwe.
“We know we were outclassed, but it’s not hard to bounce back. We just need to go back and work on certain areas ahead of our next match. We go into every match targeting a win and the next match is no different from others. We never targeted certain teams we just want to win every game that we play.”
Ireland caused the biggest upset of the 2011 World Cup when they beat England by three wickets and so far, they have been at it again, beating the West Indies with odds staked against them.
In 2007, Zimbabwe and Ireland played out a thrilling draw in Jamaica and the two faced off in 2010 for a three-match one-day international series in Harare with the hosts taking it 2-1.
This time, they clash at a neutral venue again and both teams will go into the match breaming with confidence despite both losing their previous matches.
Zimbabwe lost to Pakistan by 20 runs in a match many feel they should have won, while Ireland suffered a 201-run loss to a ruthless South Africa side.
Zimbabwe’s performance with the ball, particularly in the first 40 overs, would have given them all the confidence and their batting can refer to the performances against South Africa and West Indies where they made some work of chasing totals above 300.
On the other hand, Ireland will feel that having beaten West Indies, they have a good chance against Zimbabwe.
Ireland’s last match is against Pakistan and if they they register a win against Zimbabwe, it will be enough to take them through.
They are aware the Pakistan match could present a sterner challenge with the latter having bounced back into contention.
Simmons said that the team that he has for this World Cup is stronger in the batting area with the likes of captain William Porterfield, Niall and Kevin O’brien having gained more experience.
“The bowling is a bit weaker than the one we had in 2011 after losing Andre Botha, Trent Johnson and Boyd Rankin. But the batting is a bit more experienced now. It’s the same people, but they have got better with time. As for Zimbabwe, they seem to be enjoying their cricket more now and that is very important. I know most of the players. I worked with them when I was there, but they are enjoying their game more now.”