ZIMBABWE only have themselves to blame for their failure so far to cause the upset they require to progress to the quarterfinals of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
A match up against Pakistan at the Gabba here yesterday presented the best opportunity for Zimbabwe to register a win against one of the top nations and it so proved when Zimbabwe cornered Pakistan with some fine bowling, yet this time it was the batting that let them down and Zimbabwe fell 20 runs short.
After all the hard work with the ball, they had backed themselves to complete the job with the bat, having done well in three previous matches in that regard, but they couldn’t see it through.
The victory target of 236 looked achievable, but Zimbabwean batsmen were dazzled by the Gabba’s bright lights, batting second in the day-night match, an experience they have not been exposed to very much.
Big Mohammad Irfan wrecked Zimbabwe’s hopes and broke the hearts of a good crowd that contained Zimbabweans living here and Australians who sympathised with Zimbabwe’s cause.
Once Irfan got rid of Zimbabwe’s top three — Sikandar Raza, Chamu Chibhabha and Hamilton Masakadza for nine, eight and 29 respectively with some serious pace — Pakistan never looked back and they soon transferred the pressure.
Each time Zimbabwe looked to form a good partnership, Pakistan always had a way of breaking it just at the right time.
With Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams in the middle, there was always hope that the much-sought-after result would be achieved, but Wahab Riaz took out the former just after he had reached his half century off 72 balls.
Even with Craig Ervine, Mire and Chigumbura still to come at that stage, hope had waned with the later limping with a suspected muscle tear.
Rahat Ali took out Williams (33) who represented Zimbabwe’s hope and after that Mire (8) didn’t last long, while Ervine (14) struggled to hit the boundaries at the same time trying to avoid making Chigumbura run and he soon buckled under that pressure to leave the wounded soldier on guard.
Try as Chigumbura and Panyangara did, the game had gone and it was just a matter of time before Pakistan wrapped it up with Riaz taking out Chigumbura and Tawanda Mupariwa before the Tinashe Panyangara run out to complete the win.
In the end, it was a good fight by Chigumbura who scored Zimbabwe’s second highest total with 35 despite playing in obvious pain.
The day had begun so well for Zimbabwe who had lost the toss, but making good use of the ball.
Pakistan struggled so much so that they scored just two boundaries in the first 20 overs.
While Zimbabwe took wickets at regular intervals, it was the big wicket of Misbah Ul-haq that came a little too late, with the veteran drawing from a well of experience to stay on and ensure they had something to bowl at.
Zimbabwe will be looking for answers. Could it be Ul-Haq’s 73 runs or Riaz’s late half century that took the game away?
Or could it be Ifran? But they will blame themselves more than anyone. Pakistan were there for the taking.
Tendai Chatara, Mupariwa and Panyangara did well with ball for most parts of Pakistan’s innings and so did Williams who took two wickets, but all that came to naught.
It must be painful for Chatara who retained figures of 3-35 and still finished on the losing side.
A day that started so well ended in disappointment for Zimbabwe and its back to the drawing board with Ireland coming up next in Hobart.
Any hope of progressing means they have to win the last two matches against Ireland and India and that presents a daunting task.