No quick fix to Zimbabwe’s opening batting woes, says coach Houghton

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Zimbabwe cricket team coach Dave Houghton

Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton knows there is no quick fix to his side’s opening batting problems but remains confident of finding a long-term solution after the opening batters’ recent struggles in the ongoing One Day International (ODI) Series against India.

The Chevrons have chopped and changed their opening batting partnership since the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh and the first two matches of the ongoing series against India with no solution yet in sight.

In the first ODI against India, the opening pair of Innocent Kaia and Tadiwanashe Marumani put 25 for the opening pair before they were dismissed in quick succession for four and eight runs respectively.

Takudzwanashe Kaitano, who has endured a recent run of indifferent form after a promising start to his international cricket career was recalled for the second ODI against India and looked happy to bide his time against the new ball before he was dismissed for seven off 32 balls.

Speaking after his team’s five-wicket loss in the second ODI, Houghton admitted that the opening batting partnership was a problem in his squad, and finding a quick solution had not been made easy by the absence of skipper Craig Ervine and the quality of opposition they have faced in India.

“Firstly we have to be realistic; we are playing against a really good Indian side. You have to credit them first, the cricket they play put us under a lot of stress from the first ball of the day to the last. We have got issues within our own team, top of the order is a problem and it doesn’t help with Craig Ervine being out at the moment as well,” Houghton told reporters during Saturday’s post-match Press conference.

“If you saw in the ICC T20 World Cup qualifiers we had Regis upfront with Craig and Sean Williams at three and it was a little bit more stable but then again you have to look at the standard of the opposition.”

Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Innocent Kaia walk out to the middle during the second ODI against India last week. CREDIT Tsvangirai Mukwazhi/AP

Houghton said they will continue chopping and changing personnel at the top until they find a pair that is consistent enough to be given an extended run.

“With Craig’s injury we have played around a little at the top and we still continue to do so and we are not finding a solution yet. So we know we have a problem and we are seeking and searching every day to try and find a solution and at the moment if it means changing personnel we will keep changing until we can find someone who can be there consistently,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s last century partnership for the first wicket in ODIs was way back in 2014 when former captain Hamilton Masakadza and Sikandar Raza added 224.

The Chevrons appeared to have found the ideal opening pair at the start of 2022 when Regis Chakabva and Kaitano added 80 and 59 in the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka in Pallekele.

However, Kaitano’s inconstant run of form resulted in him failing to nail down a regular place in the side.

On the other hand, Chakabva appears best suited for a middle-order role, where he recently flourished by scoring the fastest ODI century by a Zimbabwean during the ODI series against Bangladesh.

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