Battling Zimbabwe secure second India ODI win
Zimbabwe produced yet another astonishing win over India in Harare as they continue to repair their devastated international reputation.
The country’s well-documented internal strife has hit the national cricket team hard and they last played a Test match in 2005.
But under the stewardship of Englishman Alan Butcher they have pulled off a pair of convincing scalps over a team including Suresh Reina and Virat Kohli.
The gradual thawing of the international attitude towards Zimbabwe over the last year has been rewarded with a home tri-series, also including Sri Lanka.
And rather than acting as cannon fodder for their illustrious visitors, Zimbabwe sprung a surprise, chasing down 286 to beat India in the opener.
Sri Lanka restored parity in their second match, Tillakaratne Dilshan starring in a thumping nine wicket defeat.
But rather than resting on their laurels, Elton Chigumbura’s side rallied producing a second clinical win to leave them on top of the points table.
The side remains workmanlike but Butcher, the father of former England opener Mark, insists they can return to their hey-day of the late 1990’s.
An attack based on four spin bowlers and one medium pacer suggests they are too limited for a return to test cricket, but being consistently competitive at ODI level is a realistic goal.
But there is unquestioned talent in the side which includes wicket-keeper Tatenda Taibu and veteran left-arm spinner Ray Price.
A soothing of the countries volatile political situation since the 2008 general election is slowly filtering through to sporting affairs.
Brazil’s footballers visited Harare for a friendly this week and the presence of white players such as Craig Ervine and Brendon Taylor in the cricket side illustrates progress.
Zimbabwe joined the test fold in 1992 and, despite their limitations, players such as Heath Streak and present England coach Andy Flower helped form a competitive side.
But as the country descended into chaos so did their cricket team.
England refused to play a World Cup match in Harare in 2003 and in the same tournament Flower and Henry Olonga staged a now famous black-arm-protest protest against the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœdeath of democracy,’ in their country.
The following year 14 players walked away from the squad after captain Streak was sacked by the board.