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Zim has the nerve

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The Zimbabwe national cricket team players have promised to lift themselves out of the mess they plunged themselves into with a timid show on their way to a whitewash defeat in the one-day international (ODI) series, with a better show in T20 series against India starting today.

By Kevin Mapasure

Former Zimbabwe cricket captain Elton Chigumbura (left) and India's Ajinkya Rahane shake hands at the toss, ahead of the first ODI last year
Former Zimbabwe cricket captain Elton Chigumbura (left) and India’s Ajinkya Rahane shake hands at the toss, ahead of the first ODI last year

While they know that the Indians will strive to be as efficient as they were in the previous series, the Chevrons have promised fans they will see a lot of energy in the field, as they seek to mend their battered egos.

Zimbabwe lost the 50-overs series in embarrassing fashion, going down by nine, eight and 10 wickets in the three matches respectively, but they are desperate to prove to the world they are a more decent side than that set of results suggest. They will look back at the last match in this format played between the two nations, where Zimbabwe won, as a source of inspiration and confidence.

Captain Graeme Cremer said they consider themselves a dangerous T20 side and they believe the Indians can be beaten.

“We know we are a dangerous T20 side and in this format it is about getting a good start, so if the opposition fails to get that right we will look to take advantage,” he said.

“The last T20 we played against them we won, so we know they can be beaten. The spotlight is on us. The whole world is watching and we are looking forward to running things around.”

At this stage, of course its difficult for them to convince anyone, but a win or at least a good show would help change the negative impression on Zimbabwe cricket.

Middle-order batsman, Sikandar Raza Butt said local fans, who were disappointed by the ODI show, should expect a better performance in this three-match series.

“I can certainly say there will be a lot of energy on the field tomorrow (today)”, he told a Press conference yesterday.

“We are desperate to win the hearts of the nation back and everything has to start with this match. If we win against such an opposition, I am sure we win back the hearts of the fans.”

Raza Butt said they have learnt a lot from batting coach, Lance Klusener since he started working with the group just before the onset of this tour.

“Klusener has been brilliant since he came, but unfortunately, we have not done any justice to what he taught us. The coach (Makhaya Ntini) brings in a lot of energy, but Klusener has taught us to be cool and composed. We hope to show to the world what we have learnt from them.”

Zimbabwe still miss two of its key batsmen in Craig Ervine and Sean Williams, due to injuries, but they are confident that this format provides them with a good platform to earn back lost respect.

The powerful Malcolm Waller comes into the fray, but it is likely that Vusi Sibanda could miss out as well as seamer, Tendai Chatara.

India coach Sunjay Bangar wants to keep the momentum going and, while they will be tempted to shift and shuffle to give as many players a run, they will not go for wholesome changes.

Their players would have benefitted from the Indian Premier League season and they will draw a lot of confidence from their ODI series display but they remain grounded.

“We always respect the opponent and we know after losing the last series Zimbabwe will come out and try to be competitive in the T20 series, but we will approach the matches with a plan and objective,” Bangar said.

“Some of our batsmen have not had a run because the top order has been doing well and we hope they continue on that note.”

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