The Chevrons will face the Irish on Friday, looking to maintain their undefeated streak but Ireland have the strength and depth, in both departments, to provide a stern test to the hosts.
By Carlo Chikomba
Zimbabwe will look to take a step further in their pursuit of a spot in the 2019 Cricket World Cup tournament as they face Ireland in their first Super-Sixes encounter at the Harare Sports Club tomorrow.
Both Zimbabwe and Ireland will be hoping to make the most of the momentum gained during what was largely smooth sailing in the group stage, as they get ready for their ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 Super Sixes game
The Chevrons, being the tournament hosts, have been in great form as they sit atop Group B on seven points after winning three of their four games with their final match, against Scotland, ended in a thrilling draw.
Their opponents on the other hand, have also managed to stamp their authority in the tournament so far, winning three of their four games as they only tasted defeat at the hands of favourites Windies.
Key to the Chevrons charges has been the form of all-rounder Sikandar Raza who has been efficient with both the bat and the ball, contributing 194 runs and 10 wickets from four games.
The prodigal son, Brandon Taylor, has also come into the fore with the senior batsman leading the tournament run charts, with an impressive 279 runs so far at an average of 69.75. Raza isn’t far behind either, with 194 at 48.50.
However, the form of other Chevrons batsmen has been somewhat underwhelming with the likes of Hamilton Masakadza, Malcom Waller, Craig Evine and Peter Moor churning out a string of inconsistent performances. Luckily for the hosts, their bowling attack bearing the likes of Graeme Cremer, Tendai Chisoro and Blessing Muzarabani have all chipped in with wickets to bail-out the side’s sometimes woeful display with an excellent bowling attack.
Ireland, however, have a fair bit of muscle in the batting department. William Porterfield had been doing much of their run scoring at the top so far, but in their final league outing against United Arab Emirates, his opening partner Paul Stirling came good, scoring a belligerent 117-ball 126. With the ball, the likes of Tim Murtagh (nine wickets in four), Boyd Rankin (eight wickets in four) and Andy McBrine (five wickets in three) have all impressed.
With both sides looking formidable, the clash looks to serve a delicious treat for cricket lovers and with home-ground advantage, the Chevrons may have that extra bit of edge over their opponents on Friday.