The Zimbabwe national cricket team could seal their place at the 2019 Cricket World Cup finals to be hosted by England and Wales next year with a victory over the Windies in the two team’s penultimate match of the Super Six stage today.
By Kevin Mapasure
With five points in the bag a win today can take Zimbabwe’s tally to seven and only second-placed Scotland, who are going to finish off their campaign with a match against Windies, can surpass that tally.
Two teams qualify to the finals next year and if Zimbabwe win today they can start thinking about England, but there is still another incentive with a glittering trophy up for grabs.
They can only start thinking about the trophy if they win their high-stakes showdown with the Windies, who are smarting from a defeat against Afghanistan, which blemished their hitherto perfect record at this tournament.
The Windies have four points, the same as Ireland, who have played one match more while Afghanistan have two, with Ireland yet to collect anything at this stage.
This clash pits two nations that can ill afford missing out on England 2019 with the Windies having won the competition on two occasions, they feel it is their right to be at the big party, while Zimbabwe will not want to watch a team that has only just joined the full member club or an associate side going through ahead of them.
This is probably the most awaited match by the local fans, who have carried their team through to this stage.
What may give Zimbabwe the biggest hope is that the Windies struggled against spin in their last match against Afghanistan and on the other hand Zimbabwe’s spin has been in top form in this tournament.
On three occasions spin managed to pull Zimbabwe out of the fire.
In the last match, captain Graeme Cremer, Tendai Chisoro, Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza shared eight wickets among themselves, after Zimbabwe had set Ireland a winning target of 212 on Friday.
Both teams will be looking to see the opening partnership set the platform for a big score with Zimbabwe likely to maintain the combination of Solomon Mire and Cephas Zhuwao, while the Windies look to the pair of Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis.
In the last match things didn’t go well for Zimbabwe’s openers with Zhuwao making 20 while Mire had 11.
Brendan Taylor has been a good source of runs with a total of 304 runs to his name so far while Sikandar Raza has enjoyed a good run that has seen him steer the team with both bat and ball.
His unbeaten 69 on Friday helped Zimbabwe cross the 200 mark in a situation, where at some point they looked like they would not get 150.
With so much at stake, the stage is set for a match that is likely to be played in the spirit of a final with the Windies’ progression at stake while Zimbabwe could clinch their ticket.