Tough task for Young Chevrons

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Tough task for Young Chevrons

Lawrence Moyo

Head Zimpapers Sports

ZIMBABWE’S impressive bowlers face an uphill task against aggressive hosts South Africa in their opening match of the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Super-Six stage in Potchefstroom this morning.

While South Africa is pushing for a top-four finish as hosts, Zimbabwe already has a disadvantage of progressing to the Super Six stage (of 12 teams) with zero points and a negative net run rate to a stage where they will only play two matches.

Three teams already have four points carried forward from the opening round and that is the maximum Zimbabwe can get if they overcome South Africa today and England on Saturday.

So realistically Zimbabwe are playing for a Top 10 finish and improving on their ranking at the 2022 tournament staged in the Caribbean.

At this year’s tournament, Zimbabwe have already secured a Top 12 finish as they are guaranteed a ranking higher than Afghanistan, Namibia, Scotland and the USA who failed to reach the Super Six stage after finishing bottom of their respective groups.

In the 2022 World Cup hosted by the West Indies, Zimbabwe also finished third in their group but a different format meant that they moved to the Plate League and ended in 12th place. They were placed higher than Uganda, Scotland, Canada and Papua New Guinea.

Zimbabwe coach Prosper Utseya said they were happy to have reached the Super Six stage at this year’s tournament.

In a media interview yesterday, Utseya was pleased that they had managed to reach the Super Six stage following a comfortable eight-wicket win over Namibia on Saturday.

“We are very happy considering the journey that has taken us to have reached this stage. It has been a two-year program and it hasn’t been easy but ZC has invested a lot in this program so for us to qualify, means a lot to the guys and also shows an improvement from the last Under-19 teams that failed to qualify so I’m very happy for the guys, our hard work is starting to pay off,” he said.

Utseya believes the team’s batting is improving although their Super Six hopes are weakened by the zero points they have.

“The guys are super ready, we are starting to play well and our batting is starting to come together. We have dominated more with the ball but the guys are super ready and looking forward to the challenge.

“It (zero points) makes it a bit challenging but very much achievable. What we just need is to make sure that when we win we win with a very good net run rate in both our matches and also hope for a favourable result in other matches,” said Utseya.

Today Utseya’s boys take on a South Africa side that looked ruthless against Scotland in their final group match, scoring 273/3 in just 27 overs.

While Zimbabwe’s bowlers have taken 25 wickets in three first-round matches, they will have to be more disciplined and consistent if they are to contain the South Africans led by Dewan Marais who finished the first round as the fourth-highest scorer on 187 runs at an average of 93.50 and 9th best Steve Stolk with 155 runs at 51.66 an innings.

Zimbabwe failed to reach 100 runs in their opening two matches against Sri Lanka and Australia and then strolled to 147/2 in 35.3 overs against Namibia and, as such, do not have a batsman among the Top 15 after the first round.

In bowling, Ryan Simbi was ranked 15th with six wickets from three matches and was also among the most economical bowlers as he was ranked sixth for dot balls –he had 114 dot balls in the 30 overs bowled in the opening round.

He remains a key figure for today’s match.