Zimbabwe take inspiration from Ireland

Zimbabwe cricket captain Elton Chigumbura takes a catch during a training session in February 2011. Chigumbura has said his team will take inspiration from giant-killers Ireland in their World Cup Group A match against much-fancied Sri Lanka on March 10.

By Shahid Hashmi

Pallekele: Mar 9, 2011

Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura said his team would take inspiration from giant-killers Ireland in their World Cup Group A match against much-fancied Sri Lanka on Thursday.

Ireland upset England by three wickets in a Group B match last week, riding on a superlative, record-breaking hundred from Kevin O’Brien to chase down a mammoth 328-run target, a lesson Chigumbura believes other teams must learn.

“They (Ireland) always believed in themselves. We obviously believe in ourselves but there might be room to improve,” said Chigumbura on Wednesday.

Ireland’s victory was their second big upset following their three-wicket win against Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup, which forced the 1992 champions out of the event in the West Indies. The 24-year-old Zimbabwe captain believes his team has the capacity to follow in Ireland’s footsteps.

“My team has been on that path. If you believe you can beat a bigger team, you can do that. It’s up to every individual to have that same belief and that gives me motivation. When you see other teams who don’t give up and end up winning, like Ireland did against England, that teaches you it isn’t over until it’s over. You can’t take anyone lightly,” he said.

Chigumbura, who took over from Prosper Utseya in 2009, said batting was the key area of concern in a Zimbabwe side who still have an outside chance of making the quarter-finals.

“Our main emphasis is on our batting, we have been working on keeping our wickets. Our first 15 overs have been the most disappointing in all our games,” said Chigumbura, whose team were 46-5 after 15 overs against New Zealand.

They were bundled out for 162 — a total which New Zealand overhauled without losing a wicket. Zimbabwe, who also lost to Australia but beat Canada, have two points after three matches and need a win to remain in hunt for a quarter-final place.

Chigumubura agreed beating Sri Lanka will be a big challenge. “Most of their bowlers are matchwinners. We’ve been watching them play with other teams so it will be important to keep our wickets in hand and put a good total,” said the Zimbabwe captain.