THE Zimbabwe national cricket team have slumped to a new low, after dropping two places in the latest ICC One Day International (ODI) rankings to a 12th place ranking, following their embarrassing 49-run loss to Afghanistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium last Friday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Afghanistan took a 1-0 lead in the five match ODI series after successfully defending the lowest total for an ICC Associate team against a Full Member nation.
After bowling out Afghanistan for a measly 131, courtesy of a five-wicket haul by Graeme Cremer, Zimbabwe were to coast home comfortably.
However, it was Dav Whatmore’s charges who were left bitterly disappointed as they slumped to 82 all-out in 30.5 overs with only captain Elton Chigumbura (28), PJ Moor (21) and Graeme Cremer (12) reaching double figures in a pathetic batting performance.
With the win, Afghanistan, who are aiming for their second consecutive ODI series over Zimbabwe, rose to number nine in the latest ICC ODI rankings, the highest spot they have reached since they started playing the sport 14 years ago.
However, for Zimbabwe, their current position leaves them with more work to do in order to qualify for the next edition of the International Cricket Council World Cup.
Only the top eight ranked nations on the ICC ODI rankings will get automatic qualification for the next 50-over World Cup, while the rest will have to go through a qualification process that involves associate sides.
This year Zimbabwe had one of its busiest seasons, hosting India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Ireland and Afghanistan with high hopes of emulating Bangladesh have stormed the top eight to grab a place in the Champions Trophy ahead of the West Indies.
The team also had two tours to Pakistan and Bangladesh, having also participated at the International Cricket Council World Cup in Australia and New Zealand between February and March.
However, after a promising start to the year, following the appointment of Whatmore as head coach, the team’s fortunes have taken a nosedive, managing just seven wins in 30 international limited over matches.
The lowest point came back in October when Zimbabwe lost 3-2 and 2-0 in both the ODIs and T20s respectively, at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe will be hoping to make up for an uninspiring performance, which saw them crashing to 49-run loss at the hands of Afghanistan when the two teams meet in the second ODI in Sharjah tomorrow.
After a lifeless batting display, Zimbabwe is likely to recall experienced batsman Hamilton Masakadza, who did not play a part in Friday’s match together with bowler Tinashe Panyangara.
Zimbabwe squad: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Malcolm Waller, Graeme Cremer, Chamu Chibhabha, Tinashe Panyangara, Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva, Hamilton Masakadza, Wellington Masakadza, Muzarabani, Sikander Raza, PJ Moor (wk), Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Sean Williams, Craig Ervine
Afghanistan squad: Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Mohammad Nabi, Nawroz Mangal, Mirwais Ashraf, Samiullah Shenwari, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Shafiqullah, Usman Ghani, Yamin Ahmadzai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Rashid Khan, Rokhan Barakzai, Amir Hamza, Sayed Shirzad, Karim Sadiq, Nawaz Khan