‘Awful’ performance a concern as Zimbabwe make poor start in bid for T20 World Cup qualification

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Windhoek- Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton has labelled his side’s start to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier Africa Final 2023 as ’embarrassing’ and urged his players to try and put the performance behind them quickly and return to winning ways.

Houghton’s charges were among the fancied teams to finish in the top two places in the standings and snatch one of the two remaining places in next year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, but their quest to do so started miserably as they were soundly beaten by hosts Namibia by seven wickets on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe managed to muster just 132/8 with the bat after they won the toss on a good wicket for batting in Windhoek, but Namibia’s strong batting line-up – led admirably by a magnificent 89 from opener Nikolaas Davin – chased down that modest victory target with more than five overs to spare much to the chagrin of Houghton.

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The former Zimbabwe batter said the performance was ’embarrassingly bad’ and could find no reason why his men played so poorly during the fixture.

“I have just spent quite a bit of time in the changeroom with the team after that game and, when you ask what went wrong, as far as I am concerned, we got everything wrong,” Houghton said.

“We were awful today, embarrassingly bad. I think it’s probably one of the worst games that I have ever been associated with in a Zimbabwean jersey.

“Why it happens, I have absolutely no idea. We train hard, we train with specifics. The guys worked really hard, they had enough energy coming into this game, but we batted poorly and followed that up by bowling poorly and our fielding was average.”

Zimbabwe have little time to lick their wounds, with their next clash at the tournament coming against Tanzania at the United Cricket Ground in Windhoek on Thursday.

With just two spots at next year’s 20-over showcase in the West Indies and USA up for grabs at the qualifier event, Houghton now believes his side needs to win all five of their remaining matches to have any chance of progressing.

“It’s a terrible start to this tournament, but we do know we’ve got to win the next five games and still qualify,” Houghton said.

“That’s important for us, but not my best day and certainly not my happiest day. In fact, I feel like we should be all out here apologising to our fans.”

Houghton stressed the importance of his players putting the loss to Namibia behind them quickly and concentrating on the remaining matches.

“We can’t dwell on these losses. It’s important they recognise how bad a loss that was – which is what I have just given them in the changeroom – but it is a quick turnaround and that’s a good thing we can put it all right tomorrow afternoon and get ourselves on the board with a win and then start our march towards qualifying,” he said.

“We can’t sort of rest on our laurels and think we are a bigger side than the rest. We’ve got to turn up and play proper cricket. We didn’t do it today.”

In other matches on Wednesday, Kenya defeated Rwanda by 17 runs and Uganda registered an eight-wicket triumph over Tanzania.

2023 © International Cricket Council

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