By Kevin Mapasure
The Zimbabwe national cricket team might have lost their one-day international (ODI) series to Sri Lanka, but they can pick a lot of positives from their show in the sub-continent.
Zimbabwe lost the series 2-1, but managed to pick up 10 points that lifted them from the bottom of the table in the Super League, whose final outcome is important for the 2023 International Cricket Council World Cup qualification.
The Chevrons have 39 points, four behind South Africa in 10th position and 14 off the qualification spot.
Seven top-ranked nations will clinch automatic spots to the next World Cup, while the rest will be determined at another qualification tournament that will be hosted in Zimbabwe in June this year.
The third ODI result, where Zimbabwe lost by 184 runs, is the only blemish on what was an otherwise good outing in Sri Lanka.
Having lost the first ODI by five runs, Zimbabwe recovered to level the series in the second match after recording a 22-run victory, but were brought back to earth with the third match annihilation.
But for a team that lost its spine with the retirement of Brendan Taylor last year, their batting performance is commendable.
In the first match, Zimbabwe scored 296 runs with debutante Takudzwa Kaitano scoring 42 runs from 50 balls, while fellow opener Regis Chakabva celebrated a half century, ending on 72 from just 81 balls.
It was Sean Williams though who was the star of Zimbabwe’s batting, scoring 100 off 87 deliveries to give Zimbabwe a good chance of clinching a win in the opener.
In the second ODI, captain Craig Ervine scored 91 from 98 balls, while Chakabva fell three runs short of a half tone.
Williams was dismissed two runs shy of a half century, while Sikandar Raza raised his bat with 56 runs.
With the ball, Tendai Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani took three wickets each to hand Zimbabwe their famous win.
The third match was such a disappointment after the team had raised everyone’s hopes for a rare series win in the sub-continent.
Raza summed the disappointment up, but was pleased to see positive signs.
“Bad loss yesterday, but incredibly proud of the strides we took and things we achieved on our tour. We keep working hard and keep improving,” he said.
Ervine reserved praise for Kaitano, who he believes could be a key player for Zimbabwe.
“We’ve put in some really good performances in the first two games, but it’s really disappointing to end the series with a display like that. The wicket was really dry, and it was always going to be difficult to bat later on, we knew that. But we were blown away in those first few overs,” he
“In terms of positives, our opening partnership is definitely a plus. Kaitano has been great and I’m sure he’s gonna be around for a while.”
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