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Zimbabwe want to be sharp for virtual final

The home side need a win to secure an ICC CWC 2019 place, but UAE have nothing to lose and could pose a threat.

Overview

Zimbabwe v United Arab Emirates
Harare Sports Club, Harare
CWCQ Super Sixes Match 8
Thursday 22 March; 09:30 local, 7:30 GMT

Zimbabwe’s loss against Windies on Monday didn’t just snap the home side’s unbeaten streak in the tournament. It also put them in a dangerous position going into their final Super Sixes match of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018. Win against United Arab Emirates, and they’ll be travelling to England next year. Lose, and they’re out, their impressive tournament so far amounting to nothing. Brendan Taylor put it quite succinctly after the Windies game: “For us, it’s basically a final.”

With five teams in the Super Sixes standing a chance to qualify, Zimbabwe have no room for errors and nerves – they have to put in their best performance of the tournament, and nothing less. They face a United Arab Emirates side who are last on the table and have no chance of progressing, but that makes them exactly the sort of banana peel Zimbabwe will hope not to slip on at this stage.

Zimbabwe were below par against Windies. Their batsmen collapsed early, and though Taylor’s century pushed them to a position of strength, a flurry of wickets late in the death meant they were restricted to 299, when something in excess of 320 had seemed possible. With the ball as well, Zimbabwe, by Taylor’s own admission, weren’t “sharp enough”.

Despite that, the home side will look to take the positives. Taylor’s second century of the tournament certainly qualifies. As does the fact that they reached within four wickets and six balls of securing victory, despite a poor performance. They have that one sub-par display out of the way now, at minimal cost, and their fate rests in their own hands.

UAE will pose a challenge. They have been beaten comprehensively in their two Super Sixes matches so far, and they will be hoping to end the tournament on a high. The likes of Shaiman Anwar, who scored a 64 in their five-wicket loss to Afghanistan, and Mohammad Naveed, who returned 2/37 and scored 45, will be crucial to that.

They began the tournament well, with victories over Papua New Guinea and the Netherlands before things faded. They will be hoping for one final hurrah. Zimbabwe will be well aware of that.

Key players

Brendan Taylor (Zimbabwe): The veteran is the home side’s engine. His century against Windies put him miles above the rest on the tournament run-charts: he has 442 runs at 73.66 in six matches. His teammate Sikandar Raza, at 285 runs in six outings, is the second highest.

Shaiman Anwar (United Arab Emirates): The 39-year-old scored his second half-century of the tournament against Afghanistan, his tournament high of 64. The veteran has been around for years now, and will know better than most the importance of finishing the tournament on a high. No better way to do that than to score another biggie.

Conditions It’s been raining a fair bit in Harare, and a thunderstorm is expected on Thursday as well. In their last encounter at this venue, Zimbabwe scored 290 despite not doing too well with the bat. The pitch is once again expected to favour the willow-wielders.

Squads

Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (c), Tendai Chatara, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Peter Moor, Blessing Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza, Brendan Taylor (wk), Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams, Cephas Zhuwao

UAE: Rohan Mustafa (c), Adnan Mufti, Ahmed Raza, Amir Hayat, Ashfaq Ahmed, Chirag Suri, Ghulam Shabber (wk), Imran Haider, Mohammad Boota, Mohammad Naveed, Muhammad Usman, Qadeer Ahmed, Rameez Shahzad, Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan