Monday, 5 September 2011

Zimbabwe-Minnows on the Rise

The lone test between Zimbabwe and Pakistan concluded recently as Pakistan defeated Zimbabwe by 7 wickets. While the margin suggests that it was a very easy win for Pakistan but Pakistan had to work hard for this win against Zimbabwe. And what is certain is that there is a vast level of improvement in the Zimbabwe team.

The win wasn't easy for Pakistan as the match went on for 5 days with Zimbabwe scoring in excess of 400 in the first innings and letting Pakistan take a lead of only 54 runs. One of their players Mawoyo even scored a big hundred(163). The fight went longer than most of the India-England test matches this summer. The fact that they collapsed in the 2nd innings shows their inexperience which can certainly be improved upon if they play more such matches. They last month played a test against Bangladesh too which was their first test after 6 years(the last one being vs India in 2005) and they won it comfortably by 130 runs. The 5 match one day series against Bangladesh was won 3-2 with Zimbabwe winning the first 3 matches. In the past 2-3 years everyone had been talking about the rise of Bangladesh and their prospects of becoming a strong team. But the sudden rise of Zimbabwe has surprised everyone. They were in an exile for 6 years in test cricket and have returned with a bang winning the one test against Bangladesh and losing but fighting it out in another test against Pakistan.

Zimbabwe had always been the strong minnows who troubled teams and did not lose easily. But political turmoil in the country saw several top players retiring together leaving the team in a mess. Zimbabwe declined while Bangladesh went from strength to strength. But the talent was always there. The fight of black and white did not let the real talent come out. but as the problems receded, the quality came out which is visible today. It seems that during the exile years the whole country's cricketers worked hard so that once they came back, they would show everybody their capabilities. They have some very good players like Masakadza, Taylor, Ervine, the experienced Taibu, Ray Price, Mpofu and others. They are players who need matches, who need good teams to come to their country, who need to go and play with the top teams and support from ICC to transform Zimbabwe from the minnows to a top ranked side. Remember even India, Sri Lanka etc were minnows before they set the world ablaze with their game. They were able to do so because they regularly played in the top league. Young talent is coming in the Zimbabwe team and players are capable of scoring centuries and taking wickets and playing the long format of the game.

While they have performed well against the 2 teams, lets hope they continue doing so after all cricket needs more countries than just the 8 or 9 top teams. ICC needs to stop giving only Bangladesh regular tours with the top teams. Teams like Zimbabwe and even Ireland demand similar treatment. Zimbabwe is back and ready to fight with the world. The Minnows are certainly on the rise.

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