ZIMBABWE Test skipper Brendan Taylor will take over the captaincy of the team over the last two Group B matches of the current 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup after Elton Chigumbura was ruled out with a muscle tear.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN HOBART, AUSTRALIA
Chigumbura has effectively been ruled out of the two final group matches, but would have an outside chance of making it back if the team qualifies for the quarter-finals.
Team physiotherapist Anesu Mupotaringa said that they are doing everything to get Chigumbura back as soon as possible, but the all-rounder was losing the battle to play again in the Group stages.
“Chigumbura has a grade three muscle tear on the quad,” said Mupotaringa. “He is receiving treatment including extensive physiotherapy, but he is already out of the Ireland match. Even the match against India, I think he is losing that battle. We will keep working hard and maybe if we make it through he will be able to play again.”
Chigumbura got injured while trying to save a boundary against Pakistan on Sunday and left the field, but managed to bat making 35 runs in the defeat.
His injury, however, must have affected the team’s 236 victory target chase with his partners batting to avoid exposing their captain to running a lot.
He, however, formed a 47-run partnership with Tinashe Panyangara that gave Zimbabwe a glimmer of hope, but Mohammad Irfan and Wahad Raiz had already caused damage while the other batsmen were guilty of throwing away their wickets.
Convenor of selectors Givemore Makoni, who is the selector on tour, said that while the team had lost a leader they were spoilt for replacements.
“The loss of Elton has had a big effect”, said Makoni. “He is the leader and any team would suffer if they lost their leader. His absence also affects the team balance, but regarding captaincy we have Taylor and Prosper Utseya. Both have captained the ODI team before.”
The Zimbabwe camp is particularly disappointed Chigumbura will not play against India as his power-hitting and ability to clear boundaries would have come into play in the shorter Eden Park boundaries.
Makoni, however, said that Chigumbura’s unavailability had opened up opportunities for other players who have been struggling to make it into the team.
“We have got six other players that have been sitting on the bench and they are all hungry to showcase their capabilities at such a big stage. One of them will be given a chance to step in and make the difference.”
Chigumbura’s absence also puts all-rounder Solomon Mire on the limelight as he is the only other genuine all-rounder in the squad.
Mire has struggled for runs so with 27 runs against South Africa being his best while he also took two wickets against UAE, but only made nine with the bat.
On Sunday he managed just eight runs and he would have disappointed he did not come in and guide the team through as his role demands.
He has better insight of Australian wickets, but he too fell victim of pace and bounce at the Gabba.
He missed the match against West Indies with Stuart Matsikenyeri batting at number six, but the later only scored 19 runs in the 73-run defeat.
The selectors may also consider recalling Utseya who has not had an opportunity at this tournament so far.
After the 20-run loss to Pakistan at the Gabba in Brisbane, Zimbabwe jeopardised their chances of making it through to the final eight. They had been targeting a win against at least one of West Indies and Pakistan and after they had failed against the former they gave themselves a good chances against the latter, winless until Sunday, with some fine bowling.
They, however, failed to back that up with the bat, allowing Pakistan back in contention for a quarter-final berth.
Zimbabwe need to win their final two matches to enhance any chance of making it through.
Makoni said that he was confident Zimbabwe would win against Ireland at Bellerive Oval on Saturday and cause an upset against India in Auckland a week later.
“All is not lost, we need two wins and we know we can do it. This World Cup has shown us how dangerous the associate sides are. Ireland is a good team, they are well capable, but we are better and if we do the basic things right we shouldn’t have any problems. It’s about doing even the little things right that wins matches.”
He said the team’s performances against South Africa and West Indies indicate how good the team is, but will need to step a little bit to be able to beat the big guns.
“India will be tough, but we will play at a smaller pitch and we are confident we can do well against them.”