THE Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket team capped off a disappointing campaign at the ICC Under-19 World Cup on a losing note following an eight wicket defeat to hosts West Indies in a play-off match at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex in Trinidad.
The result means Zimbabwe was relegated to a 12th place finish in the 16-team tournament, their worst finish at the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup since finishing 15th at the 2012 edition of the tournament in New Zealand.
Bennett brothers shine in Under-19 World Cup playoff defeat
— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) February 1, 2022
Despite failing to adequately prepare for the Caribbean tour due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe’s campaign began on a bright note as they performed well in the preceding series against Ireland before convincingly beating Papua New Guinea in their opening group match.
After a bright start to the campaign Zimbabwe suffered successive defeats against Pakistan and Afghanistan which ended their hopes of reaching the quarterfinals of the global youth cricket competition.
Zimbabwe last reached the last eight at the ICC Under-19 World Cup at the 2006 edition in Sri Lanka.
The successive defeats meant Zimbabwe were relegated to the Plate Competition and they started brightly by convincingly defeating Scotland by 108 runs last Wednesday.
However a surprise loss to Ireland in the Plate Competition semi-final ultimately ended any hopes the Prosper Utseya-coached side had of bettering the 11th place finish they secured at the last edition of the tournament held in South Africa.
In the end Zimbabwe had to settle for 12th position after succumbing to an eight wicket loss against West Indies on Monday after Teddy Bishop and Kevin Wickham each struck centuries for the hosts to upstage Zimbabwe’s 256/4.
Zimbabwe’s gifted twin brothers Brian and David Bennett had earlier on continued with their fine form with the bat after scoring half centuries apiece to put the African side in a strong position.
The country’s leading scorer in the competition Brian Bennett contributed 62 runs and David Bennett was unbeaten on 77 runs.
Connor Mitchell’s cameo which yielded 42 runs from 26 balls helped Zimbabwe Under-19 reach a competitive score after they had started off poorly, and were at some point 25/2 after losing opener Matthew Welch (10) and captain Emmanuel Bawa (9).
But the West Indies youth side gave a good chase despite losing skipper Matthew Nandu in the second over to leave the scoreboard reading 1/1.
Bishops’ unbeaten 112 and Wickham’s 104 easily turned the game in the hosts’ favour as they reached 262/2, with four balls remaining.
The tournament continues on Tuesday with the Super League semi-finals between England and Afghanistan. The other Super League semi-final will pit former champions India and Australia on Wednesday.