IT was a stunning win which captured the imagination of the world with Zimbabwe bathing in the glow of the positive headlines it generated around the globe.
The Chevrons, thanks to a superb century from Sean Williams and a fine bowling performance from Blessing Muzarabani, stunned former World Champions Pakistan in the third One Day International in Rawalpindi this week.
The thriller spilled into a Super Over, only the second ODI match to be decided in such a manner, after the two sides tied a contest high on both drama and quality.
And, when it was all over, it was the Zimbabweans who were celebrating, after holding their nerve, in the Super Over, with Muzarabani the star of the show with his two wickets in the decider.
The lanky bowler, playing his first series for his country after ending his sabbatical from international cricket, had also taken five wickets in the Pakistan innings.
It’s a result which charmed the world.
President Mnangagwa led the chorus, as congratulatory messages rang from around the world, with the Chevrons being hailed for their heroic efforts.
“Congratulations to @ZimCricketv for a fantastic win this evening!’’ President Mnangagwa tweeted. “You have made your country proud.’’
And, the International Cricket Council also sent in a congratulatory message.
“Congratulations Zimbabwe!’’ the ICC tweeted. “They’ve seen off Pakistan in the Super Over to claim their first points of the @cricketworldcup Super League!’’
It was the Chevrons’ first win in 11 ODIs. What made this victory special was that not many had given the Chevrons a chance against Pakistan, who are one of the heavyweights in world cricket.
The Asian giants had shown their competitive spirit during their tour of England in August and September for three Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals.
England won the first Test by three wickets, but the next two tests were all drawn.
The first Twenty20 International didn’t produce a result, England won the second match by five wickets before Pakistan won the third Test by five runs. While Pakistan had the benefit of having played a competitive series in England, the Chevrons had not played for months after many of their scheduled matches were halted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite losing the series 2-1, the Chevrons pocketed 10 points for winning the third match, which sets them on the right path in their quest to get automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup in India.
The matches were part of the ICC World Cup Super League, which features 13 teams, the 12 ICC full members and the Netherlands, who qualified by winning the ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-17.
The Super League will see sides play eight three-match series each, four at home and four away.
The sides failing to qualify directly will get a second shot through a qualifier. Each team gets 10 points for a win, five for a tie/no result/abandonment and none for a loss.
Teams will be ranked according to total points earned across the eight series. Today, the Chevrons will plunge into action again, this time in a Twenty20 International showdown against Pakistan and, after their heroics in the third ODI, they know there are huge expectations, among their fans, for them to deliver a good result.
The good thing if that we have also noted that, within their camp, the Chevrons are challenging themselves and are no longer just content with competing, but fighting for a win.
“I think we can absolutely beat the bigger teams,’’ said Williams after the victory in the third ODI. “We’re tired of competing and getting beaten.
“That’s no longer acceptable.
“It’s been way too long and the whole mental approach towards our game has completely changed. Some of the younger players in the changing room, like Wesley Madhevere, are remarkably good players.
“This experience allows those younger guys to play and beat the bigger teams. Blessing has got a long career ahead of him, so there’s a lot more to come from us.”
Brendan Taylor, the other key member of this team, also highlighted this when he was named man-of-the-match, in a losing cause, in the first ODI where the Chevrons pushed themselves into a good position, but then failed to get over the line. The veteran batsman said he was disappointed to be getting another man-of-the-match award, when the team had lost, because the bigger picture for everyone in the side was to try and ensure they win matches for their country.
These are positive signals, coming out of the Chevrons camp, and they send the message that the players now want to go the extra mile to try and win matches for their nation.
This is all that we demand from them. Because the Chevrons play at the highest level of competition, in the world, in Test cricket and at the World Cups, their performances are key in giving our country a positive image around the globe.
When they win, as they did this week, they generate positive publicity for our country, in a manner which can’t be done by any of our national sporting teams.
The reason for that is simple — the Chevrons play against the best teams in the world and beating a former World Champion, as they did this week, sparks a wave of positive media coverage for the team, and this country, throughout the world.
We hope that the victory in the third ODI wasn’t just a one-off result and our boys can use these Twenty20 Internationals to show, as Williams said, that we can stand toe-to-toe with any side in the world.