JUST like in 2018, this time it also ended in tears. Like last time, Zimbabwe needed two points from their last two Super Six matches for them to qualify for the Cricket World Cup.
Last time they squandered both opportunities against an International Cricket Council full member and an associate side.
Yesterday Zimbabwe needed to win against Scotland and without taking anything for granted, and it seemed everything was all set for the Chevrons to claim the final berth to the global showcase, after Sri Lanka claimed the first one.
But after winning the toss and restricting the Scots to 234 in 50 overs, Zimbabwe were bundled out in 41.1 overs with Ryan Burl (83) and Wessley Madhevere (40) the only batsmen putting up a fight.
Captain Craig Ervine shared his disappointment after the match.
“It's a very difficult pill to swallow. I thought we did well to restrict them to 230. Unfortunately, that first initial spell from (Chris) Sole really put us on the back foot and just made it hard for us to recover from that position. Throughout the tournament, we played some extremely good cricket. It's always nice to put those demons from 2018 behind us and had we gotten over the line today, nobody would have been asking about that unfortunately, we didn't,” he said.
There have been many sporting heartbreaks for Zimbabwe in the past, especially inflicted by the national senior soccer team, the Warriors, and this one ranks up there with the most heart-wrenching moments.
Yesterday’s encounter was one of the most looked forward matches, but the fans did not anticipate that they were only being set up for another heartbreak.
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They came out in their numbers, ready for an after-match party, but left dejected, wondering what went wrong for a team that had been in cruise mode until they came to Bulawayo.
When Ervine won the toss, things seemed to be going in Zimbabwe’s favour as they challenged Scotland to put up a formidable total on the board, which they failed to do. Scotland started solidly, seeing out the difficult early overs until Tendai Chatara got the breakthrough, uprooting Christopher McBride’s middle stump for 28 runs in the 17th over.
Sean Williams followed suit by removing Mathew Cross for 28 after dismantling his castle.
Scotland lost two more wickets for 16 runs with Williams on a roll and threatening to rip through their batting card.
When Tomas Mackingtosh and George Munsley departed, it looked like Scotland would fold for under 200 runs, but a 34 ball 48 by Michael Leask propelled Scotland to a total that they could bowl at.
Even then it looked all rosy for Zimbabwe who all along were in good batting form in this tournament, but the horror film started rolling out from ball one.
Joylord Gumbie edged Sole for a golden duck and his partner Ervine followed him to the pavilion 12 balls later with 13 runs on the board.
The crowd hissed at the sight of Williams’ bails flying to leave Zimbabwe’s innings ailing at 29 for 3 after 6.2 overs.
With eight runs having been added to the total, Innocent Kai was on his way having been snared by Brandon MacMullen and despite chances of winning having diminished, the arrival of Ryan Burl to collaborate with Sikandar Raza gave the fans reason to be optimistic
The two put together a 54 run 5th wicket stand before Raza, unnecessarily, went for a big hit only to find Chris Greaves’ welcoming hands.
Madhevere, with 40 runs from 39 balls, played one of his better knocks of late having struggled for form this time combining with Burl to take Zimbabwe to 167.
Burl was running out of partners after Wellington was dismissed and felt he had to launch and throw some lusty blows.
He had hit a four and a six and was caught after trying to clear the boundary in succession.