Zimbabwe ready to trip up old foes India

Published on Nov 05, 2022 06:55 PM IST

Skipper Craig Ervine says his bowlers are keen to grab the chance of bowling to India’s top batters, especially Virat Kohli, in their last Group 2 Super 12 tie in Melbourne on Sunday.

Zimbabwe players celebrate the dismissal of Netherlands' Colin Ackermann during the T20 World Cup cricket match between the Netherlands and Zimbabwe in Adelaide.(AP)
Zimbabwe players celebrate the dismissal of Netherlands' Colin Ackermann during the T20 World Cup cricket match between the Netherlands and Zimbabwe in Adelaide.(AP)
By, Melbourne

Virat Kohli made his T20I debut in 2010, against Zimbabwe. On the same tour, Rohit Sharma scored his first international century, in an ODI in Bulawayo. Six years later, KL Rahul too made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe, topping it with a hundred. They haven’t been invited to tour India in 20 years, yet Zimbabwe continue to be favoured for breaking in fresh talent. Things weren’t as relaxed before 2002 when a side comprising Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Alistair Campbell, Heath Streak, Neil Johnson and Henry Olonga could beat any team on their day. The current Zimbabwe team may not be there yet but they sure have made everyone sit up and notice in Australia.

That’s what a one-run win against Pakistan can do to a team’s World Cup narrative. Defeats to Bangladesh and Netherlands couldn’t be avoided but that win against Pakistan and splitting points with South Africa—though that has to do more with rain—have helped Zimbabwe to be on the verge of scripting a fairy tale run. One more match left, they are gunning for nothing but glory.

“The win against Pakistan, it's given us a huge amount of belief that we can beat any side in the tournament. I don't think that will change going into tomorrow’s game,” Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine said before their match against India on Sunday.

“The World Cup has been really exciting because there’s been a lot of close games. One thing we've learnt is you’re never out of it. If you can try and stay in the game and try and take it as deep as possible, you never know where it might take you. There's obviously a lot of different pressures that are at play in various games, so especially just trying to take the game as deep as possible and letting the other side panic before you do,” he said.

The last time Zimbabwe won against India was in 2016, by two runs in a T20I. That was a blip on the radar. This time though, they are a well-rounded team. “This is a great opportunity to bowl against some of the best guys in the world, so there's no reason why guys would not want to actually get out there and produce the goods. How often do you get the opportunity to put Virat Kohli in your pocket? I’m pretty sure that our fast bowlers will be raring to go come tomorrow,” said Ervine.

Zimbabwe rarely make waves on the cricket front so any memorable performance at a World Cup could go a long way in lifting the game. “Going away from the World Cup, we want to take that sort of consistency with us,” said Ervine. “I think we've created a good support base. There’s a lot of people that are following Zimbabwe cricket and we want to try and keep it that way and build on that going forward.”

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    Somshuvra Laha is a sports journalist with over 11 years' experience writing on cricket, football and other sports. He has covered the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 2016 ICC World Twenty20, cricket tours of South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh and the 2010 Commonwealth Games for Hindustan Times.

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