BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE Cricket team captain Craig Ervine believes his side has made some progress despite their disappointing 185 run defeat to Sri Lanka in this third and series deciding One Day International (ODI) in Kandy on Friday.
The Chevrons appeared on course to win their second consecutive ODI series on Sri Lankan soil after winning the second ODI on Wednesday before putting on a good bowling performance to restrict the hosts to a gettable total of 254-9 in the series decider.
After putting on impressive batting performances in their first two matches, Zimbabwe crashed out for 70 in 24.4 overs as Sri Lanka avoided another shock victory on home soil.
However despite the series defeat Lalchand Rajput’s men earned valuable points in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League which lifted the country from the basement of the 13-team standings up to 11th place.
“We’ve put in some really good performances in the first two games, but it’s really disappointing to end the series with a display like that,” captain Craig Ervine said after the loss.
“The wicket was really dry, and it was always going to be difficult to bat later on, we knew that. But we were blown away in those first few overs.
“In terms of positives, our opening partnership is definitely a plus. (Takudzwanashe) Kaitano has been great and I’m sure he’s gonna be around for a while,” said Ervine.
Takudzwanashe Kaitano, who made his ODI debut in the first match of the tour, was impressive as an opener for Zimbabwe emerging as the eight best run getter in the series.
Kaitano and the inform Regis Chakabva managed to put up an opening stand of over 50 runs in the first two ODIs setting the foundation for big scores.
While Friday’s defeat was a disappointing end to the series, it signals a positive trajectory for the team.
The Zimbabwe Cricket board has done extremely well in the past couple of years investing in the game locally to increase the pool of players to choose from following the retirement of some senior players such as Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura and lately Brendon Taylor.
Some of the players who have stood up to be counted in the senior national team include youngsters such as Wesley Madhevere, Milton Shumba, Dion Mayers and Tadiwanashe Marumani to mention but a few.
Zimbabwe were unlucky to lose the first match after posting a competitive 297 target, powered by a Sean Williams ton and a 72-run knock by Regis Chakabva, but the hosts scrapped home with nine balls to spare.
In the second match, Zimbabwe set Sri Lanka a 303 target but some good bowling from the seamers restricted the subcontinent side to 280 for 9 as the team recorded a massive win.
After losing the toss for the first time and being put in to field for the first time in the series on Friday, it looked like the Zimbabwe bowlers had done the job to keep Sri Lanka at 254 for nine at the innings break.
But the Zimbabwe batsman clearly struggled to adjust to batting under floodlights and only managed a paltry 70 runs in the chase which was a huge relief for the hosts.
The Zimbabwe team will now return home to prepare for the visit by Afghanistan next month.