Zimbabwe primed for orange disorder

Published: Thursday, February 27, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Bulawayo: Zimbabwe hope its own trailblazing history doesn't come back to haunt it when it faces The Netherlands on Friday to keep its fading World Cup dream alive.

When it played its first ever World Cup in 1983, it beat Australia and now, as a Test-playing nation, it is in the position of being moving targets. After beating Namibia and claiming the four points when England forfeited its scheduled game in Harare, Heath Streak's side has since lost consecutive matches to India and Australia.

If Zimbabwe does lose, it would make the outcome of its final match against Pakistan here next Tuesday academic as far as it is concerned. Streak knows that the Dutchmen, who have lost their four World Cup matches, will be looking at the example of Kenya for inspiration following the Africans' shock-win over Sri Lanka. "We don't know the meaning of the word 'complacent'," said Streak who gave his team the day off after its defeat against Australia and it responded by getting up at 4.30 in the morning to go fishing.

On Wednesday, the Zimbabweans training session was interrupted twice by rain and the unsettled weather over the Matabeleland bush could lead to a no result on Friday which would be just as demoralising as defeat. Zimbabweans in the squad are all fit, except Grant Flower, who is still nursing his spinning finger with four stitches inserted after a fielding mishap. He will probably play, but only as a batsman and field outside the realm of the specialists where he is usually to be found.

The Dutch, although not expected to rival the victory of the Australians here, have at least imitated the world champions in one respect by delaying their arrival for a day. Netherlands skipper Roland Lefebvre is hoping his team can pull off a surprise despite suffering heavy defeats to India, England, Australia and Pakistan. "The team has been very competitive and was not rolled over or thrashed by the big teams," he said.

"It is a big plus that we could take 19 wickets in the big matches against India and Pakistan. "The lack of pace bowling in the league back home and the high quality of spin in this World Cup have found us wanting a bit."

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