Mehluli Sibanda in Bloemfontein, South Africa
ZIMBABWE might have been bowled out for their lowest ever score against South Africa in One Day Internationals on South African soil in their opening match of the series in Kimberly on Sunday, but coach Lalchand Rajput is not dwelling much on that and has chosen to focus on the positives.
The Chevrons stumbled to 117 all out in 34.1 overs against the Proteas at the Diamond Oval to record their lowest ever ODI score against South Africa in this part of the world , beating for the wrong reasons, the 119 they made in November 2009 at Centurion.
Rajput, who took charge of Zimbabwe for the first time since he was confirmed as the substantive coach in August is of the view that while it looked like a comfortable victory for the South Africans, things could have been different had his team scored a little more runs and taken their chances when fielding.
On an unpredictable wicket, Zimbabwe wobbled to 117 all out but also had South Africa on 58 for four only to let them off the hook with the Proteas reaching their target with 143 balls to spare.
‘‘We got caught up on a sticky wicket, the toss was very crucial because even if they had batted it would have been difficult for them as well. I felt that there were a lot of positives from that game, it’s not that South Africa won that convincingly, they also lost five wickets, we had the momentum, at one stage we had them at 58 for four so I think it would been anybody’s game from there,’’ Rajput said.
He is convinced that had his lads taken the catches which came their way, they were in with a chance.
“Looking at the positive side, I think yes one or two dropped catches but if we had taken our catches I think it would have been difficult for them as well.”
Ahead of the ODI series against South Africa, Rajput declared that Zimbabwe were here to play aggressive and positive cricket as well as to win matches. He is still sticking to that same approach with the fighting spirit from Sunday giving credence to that belief.
“We have not come here to just give a game to South Africa, we have come to compete against South Africa and I think we showed that in the first game on that difficult wicket, we fought so hard that we made it difficult for them to get 118,’’ he said.
Given a better wicket in the second ODI at the Mangaung Oval tomorrow, Rajput is eager to make amends for the not so pleasing batting display on Sunday. “We are looking positive, we are going to try and win the next game and make it one all and hopefully we have a better wicket because the first one was really bad to bat on, I am sure the wicket here will be better,’’ said Rajput.
The Chevrons and the Proteas meet in the second ODI tomorrow, a day/night encounter where Zimbabwe will look to make it 1-1 while for South Africa, a win gives them an unassailable lead in the three-match series.
Meanwhile, both teams are now in Bloemfontein having driven down from Kimberly, which is a distance of less than 200 kilometres. Zimbabwe did not have any training session yesterday and will only fine tune this afternoon.