Houghton hails ‘intimidating’ Zimbabwe fans

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Zimbabwe fans cheer their team on during the third T20I against Ireland at Harare Sports Club on Sunday. Pic Zimbabwe Cricket

Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton has described the atmosphere created by local cricket fans as one of the best in the world.

Houghton’s his side rode on the amazing support from the home fans at Harare Sports Club to beat Ireland by four wickets and seal the T20I series 2-1 on Sunday.

The Chevrons have been enjoying some incredible home support during their matches in recent months which has made it very difficult for visiting teams.

On Sunday, the Zimbabwe team which was missing several senior players was roared on by a knowledgeable and vocal crowd, as they held their nerve in a hard-fought encounter to secure an impressive series-clinching win.

“Steve Kirby (Zimbabwe’s bowling coach from England) and me have been to a bit of stadiums with bigger crowds in our lives. But you can’t recreate this atmosphere (in Zimbabwe)  unless it’s football. It’s intimidating to the opposition,” Houghton said of the local fans during the post-match Press conference.

Dave Houghton

The former Zimbabwe captain said one of his main targets is to ensure his team dominates touring teams when playing at home. He has so far been impressed by the progress.

The success against Ireland is Zimbabwe’s second consecutive bilateral T20I series triumph at home after their win against Bangladesh in July.

“Part of the plan was to be able to be strong at home so that people don’t want to come and play us. I think we are getting there now.”

Zimbabwe’s success in the series decider was mainly due to the all-around brilliance of Ryan Burl after he bagged his second man-of-the-match award to guide the team to victory.

Burl first took two wickets for 28 runs with his leg spin after Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to field first, helping his side restrict Ireland to 141 for nine9, before crucially aiding the home side’s chase with an unbeaten 30 runs off 11 balls after captain Craig Ervine fell shortly after his half-century.

“I spoke to Ryan, he is a batsman who bowls leg spin, and he has won us matches with the ball. Today, with the bat, was the strong finish we want from him,” Houghton said.

 

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