Chevrons draw lessons from 2018 heartbreak

Chevrons batting coach Stuart Matsikenyeri

Zimbabwe will not underestimate the threat posed by minnows Oman ahead of their ICC World Cup Qualifier Super Six match at Queens Sports Club today, drawing lessons from their heartbreaking loss against United Arab Emirates (UAE) four years ago.

After comfortably winning all their Group A matches against Nepal, West Indies and the United States, the Chevrons just need to win two of their three Super Six matches against Oman, Sri Lanka and Scotland to qualify for the World Cup which will be played in India later this year.Zimbabwe’s batting coach Stuart Matsikenyeri has, however, cautioned that they will be wary of slipping after learning a harsh lesson against UAE four years ago.“Coming into this tournament and with everything we have done in the last nine months, we are trying to win every game we play. 

“Of course, it’s great to come into the Super Six with four points but still the most important game on our minds is Oman. It won't be different when we play Sri Lanka and Scotland, we want to win everything,” Matsikenyeri said during yesterday’s pre-match Press conference.

“2018 gave us lessons that you never take anything or anyone for granted. Everybody is here to play international cricket and as many wins as we can get on the international circuit go a long way for us in building our confidence.“For us, we are trying to create heroes so that we increase the numbers coming to play cricket. There is a lot for us to play for.”In 2018, Zimbabwe missed out on World Cup qualification after narrowly losing to UAE by three runs in a rain-affected thriller at Harare Sports Club. 

With five points, Zimbabwe needed a victory over either West Indies or UAE to reach the World Cup in England and Wales.They lost both games, costing them a place at the World Cup.The Chevrons are in a similarly strong position this time again, heading into the Super Six stage of the qualifiers.

After comfortably brushing aside Nepal, Zimbabwe produced a memorable display to upstage favourites West Indies last Saturday before breaking several records on their way to a crushing win against the US on Monday. “The team is in a good space, guys have been playing good cricket, not only in this tournament but it's been a couple of months where we have been playing some positive cricket, so the guys are looking forward to the game tomorrow,” Matsikenyeri noted.

“We have seen that it’s (the wicket at Queens Sports Club) a bit slower, there is more turn than in Harare. We are aware of that, but the one thing that we have been talking about for a while now is for guys to be able to solve problem. So, guys are well equipped to solve problems and get the best out of the game.”In the build-up to the qualifiers, Zimbabwe registered a 28-run win against Oman in a warm-up match at Takashinga Cricket Club. 

Despite their comfortable win during the practice match, Matsikenyeri said they would not be letting their guard down.“We played Oman in the warm-up match in Harare, but our attitude is respecting each and every opponent that we face. Our captains are big on respecting the game of cricket. So, no matter who we face we treat them as the best. They put a good show against us, they scored 360 and we only beat them by 28 runs, so we know we have a big game ahead of us tomorrow (today),” he said.

Zimbabwe will head into the Super Six stage with a near clean bill of health in their squad, with the exception of wicketkeeper batter Clive Madande, who has been ruled out of the rest of the competition due to injury. “It was unfortunate that we lost Clive Madande, but Joylord (Gumbie) has done a good job, he was very tidy, yeah so we expect him to continue. But we have got Nyasha Mayavo as well in the squad, so we have got our backs covered.

“Everyone is good to go, everyone is fit for selection, Craig (Ervine) spent a lot of time on the pitch, but he is good to score, just aches and pains here and there, but he is fine.”Following the huge turnout by the fans in Zimbabwe’s opening three matches in Harare, Matsikenyeri expects a similar atmosphere during their matches in Bulawayo.“From the fans, we are expecting nothing less than what we got in Harare. We haven’t played much cricket here since COVID-19, but in the past the Bulawayo crowd has been fantastic so we are expecting the same vibe,” he said.

“There is always pressure, but this team has embraced it. The head coach is big on playing for the crowd, playing the brand of cricket they would like to come and watch. There is a lot of pressure, but we have embraced it.”

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