Cricket World Cup within reach of Zimbabwe ahead of Sri Lanka clash

Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza has been a key player during the World Cup Qualifiers. Picture: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza has been a key player during the World Cup Qualifiers. Picture: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Published Jul 1, 2023


IN the ongoing World Cup Qualifiers, Zimbabwe are two wins away from joining South Africa in the World Cup that will start in India in October.

The competition in the World Cup Qualifiers is intensifying in Zimbabwe as the tournament is well into the Super Six stage.

Two top countries in this Qualifier tournament will join eight countries in India for the World Cup.

South Africa’s neighbours, Zimbabwe, have one of the two spots within reach as they remain unbeaten in the tournament thus far.

From the get-go, Zimbabwe looked a different team with a different drive to win more than any team in the Qualifiers.

They have registered multiple scores north of 300; the tournament’s current highest total belongs to Zimbabwe’s 408/6 against the United States earlier this week.

With relative ease, they have moved past giants of the likes of former world champions the West Indies.

Senior players have regularly stood up to the challenge and led the way with big performances throughout the group stage and now in the Super Six stage.

Zimbabwe’s 36-year-old Sean Williams is currently sitting top of the top run scorers list with 532 runs and is 82 runs away from reaching 5000 One Day International runs.

Williams currently averages 133 in his five innings in the Qualifiers and only once has he failed to reach 50.

Sikandar Raza, an inform Zimbabwean all-rounder averages 86 in the tournament and has been a consistent wicket-taker.

Skipper Craig Ervine has also led by example with one century and one fifty in the tournament thus far.

The tall Zimbabwean fast bowlers have also come to the party and have regularly bowled teams out, achieving what has become a rare feat in whiteball cricket.

From Richard Ngavara, Tendai Chatara to Blessing Muzarabani, the Zim attack has been on song and all three feature in the tournament’s top-wicket takers with Raza being the fourth Zim in the list.

On Sunday, Zim will decide their fate as far as the 2023 Cricket World Cup is concerned.

They have a monster in front of them, a Goliath of sorts in former World Champions Sri Lanka, with whom Zimbabwe lock horns with in Bulawayo.

It is important to note that Sri Lanka are not quite the Sri Lanka of old with the Sanath Jayasuriya’s or the Kumar Sangakkara’s having retired many moons ago. Sri Lanka's presence in the Qualifiers tells of the depth of their downfall over the years.

Just over a decade ago, Sri Lanka were in the final of the World Cup but now they are a team in progress and to be frank, they are not anywhere near the quality of the past generations.

But most importantly, Sri Lanka are unbeaten in the tournament as well. They have a team on a rise under the eye of coach Chris Silverwood who is also former England coach and a World Cup winner.

Silverwood has inspired the revival of the Sri Lanka spirit, a spirit of the lion and the Dimuth Karunaratne’s and the Wanindu Hasaranga’s have responded to the call with top performances in the Qualifiers.

The advantage of playing at home and the top form Zimbabwe is currently enjoying, their victory on Sunday in front of a packed Bulawayo is a vision we all Africans can already see.

But a cricket game is only won out in the middle and whoever turns up ready on Sunday will have one foot in a plane heading to India in October.

2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers Fixtures:

Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka in Bulawayo at 9am

Nepal vs U.A.E. in Harare at 9am