ZIMBABWE captain Graeme Cremer says the national cricket team is targeting an unbeaten campaign in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier tournament, setting the stage for a potentially explosive Super Six clash against pre-tournament favourites West Indies at Harare Sports Club tomorrow.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The hosts maintained their 36-year unbeaten record in the qualifiers with a crushing 107-run victory over Ireland on Friday, which took them to the top of the Super Six points table, with five points.
Zimbabwe have not lost a game in the competition thus far, beating Nepal, Hong Kong and Afghanistan and battling to a tie against Scotland in the group stage before the victory over Ireland.
Cremer’s side next take on two-time World Cup winners West Indies tomorrow, knowing that one more win could be enough to clinch one of the last two spots for next year’s tournament in England and Wales.
The Zimbabwe skipper, however, said the chance to claim a spot at the World Cup was as much a huge motivator for his side as completing the qualifiers unbeaten.
“Going to England next year is motivation enough,” Cremer said.
“Where we’re sitting on the table now, we’re so close. We don’t want to let anything slip. We don’t want an over to go by or an hour to go by where we let things slip.
“It would give us a really good chance to qualify if we can beat the West Indies, but our main goal in the tournament, right from the beginning, was to go through the tournament unbeaten,” Cremer added.
“So we’re going to take each game as it comes. We feel that we’re playing good enough cricket, and with the crowd behind us in our home conditions, if we play good cricket, we shouldn’t lose a game.”
Zimbabwe have won the qualifier tournament three times in the past, which is more than any other side, but this is the first time since they were elevated to Test status that they have had to play in it.
West Indies, who are in third position on the Super Six points table with four points, however, stand in the way of a possible fourth qualifier tournament and the team’s unbeaten record.
The Caribbean side is under immense pressure to win tomorrow’s match after slumping to a shock three-wicket defeat to Afghanistan in their opening match of the all-important Super Sixes on Thursday.
Another defeat to Zimbabwe would leave the 1975 and 1979 world champions facing the prospect of failing to qualifying for next year’s World Cup.
Cremer said he was hopeful his charges would draw inspiration from the fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude they have shown in their recent matches in order to win their remaining two matches.
“The confidence and morale is very high at the moment. We played a couple of tough games (against Scotland and Afghanistan) in Bulawayo, and potentially on another day it could not have gone our way,” he said.
“The fighting spirit and belief among the guys has been tremendous and they have showed it again today (last Friday) and we will do the same things against West Indies and UAE [United Arab Emirates]. The guys are really confident and hungry to do well in those
ICC World Cup Qualifier Super Six Fixtures
Today: Ireland v Scotland
Tomorrow: Zimbabwe v Windies
Tuesday: Afghanistan v United Arab Emirates
Wednesday: Scotland v Windies
Thursday: Zimbabwe v United Arab Emirates
Friday: Afghanistan v Ireland
*All Super Six matches to be played at Harare Sports Club