Zimbabwe Cricket team coach Dave Houghton has lauded the players for handling pressure well in the crucial ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier semi-final against Papua New Guinea at Queens Sports Club on Friday.
Reacting positively to a pre-tournament plea from Houghton to be fearless and play with freedom, Zimbabwe beat Papua New Guinea by 27 runs after posting 199-5 in 20 overs, then restricting their rivals to 172-8.
The win meant the Zimbabwe side qualified for their first T20 World Cup since the 2016 edition held in India.
Zimbabwe will now play Netherlands in the final of the qualifying competition at Queens Sports Club on Sunday with both teams having already qualified for the T20 World Cup.
Netherlands beat USA by seven wickets in the other semi-final match played at Bulawayo Athletic Club on Friday.
Houghton, who replaced Lalchand Rajput only a few weeks before the tournament after 3-0 T20 and one-day international series losses at home to Afghanistan, admitted he was delighted with the manner his players handled the pressure of getting over the line in a tense winner takes all encounter.
“It’s huge for us. It was obviously quite a big thing hanging over our heads and in these games, there was a lot more for us to lose than for the other sides. More than anything I’m pleased with the way we’ve played, particular with that extra pressure on top of us,” Houghton said.
After watching his side secure qualification for the T20 World Cup, the legendary former Zimbabwe captain challenged his players to achieve the main objective of winning the qualifying competition by beating the Netherlands in the final on Sunday.