Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE Under-19 cricket team coach Stephen Mangongo has charged his players to do away with the “big brother syndrome” when they face India Under-19s in a must-win match to save their campaign at the ICC under-19 Cricket World Cup currently underway in New Zealand.
Mangongo’s charges were left with a mountain to climb after they fell to a massive seven-wicket defeat to Australia on Wednesday. Australia and India are the most successful teams at the tournament after winning three titles apiece and started the competition as odds-on favourites to progress from Group B.
Zimbabwe began their campaign with a promising and yet comprehensive 10-wicket win over lightweights Papua New Guinea but the defeat to Australia left them on the brink. The Southern African nation were skittled out for a meagre 134 runs which Australia reached virtually without shedding too much of a sweat. Mangongo said his charges were intimidated by the name Australia and would want them to avoid the same pitfall against India.
“It was a terrible game, we did not stick to the plan at all on a very good batting surface. We expected that we were going to be able to score runs quickly. However we froze like startled rabbits in lights. The boys just played a bad game. Half volley after half volley we couldn’t put it away, we just defended and got negative.
“You know what happens when you play the name, I have complained many times that we suffer from the big brother syndrome. We played the name Australia, and we didn’t play the average bowling which they bowled at us and it’s very sad indeed. We could see that the boys were playing the name Australia not the deliveries they faced and to me that’s really disappointing,” said Mangongo.
They know they have a tall order against India who also need an outright win to cement their place in the Super League. India are yet to break a sweat in the tournament, opening with a 100-run victory over Australia and following that up with a comprehensive 10-wicket reversal of PNG to confirm their qualification for the quarter-finals.
They have four points to their account and a healthy net run rate. Zimbabwe and Australia have two points apiece and are separated by net run rate. Zimbabwe still have an outside chance of qualifying to the Super League but their defeat to Australia dealt a huge dent to their net run rate and even diminished their chances of making the last eight as the Australians are expected to have no problems against PNG in their last Group B match. However, Mangongo and his charges are still willing to pick up the broken pieces and give one of the tournament heavyweights a good run for their money.
“Of course we got thumped and well done to Australia. We congratulate them for their victory. We have got to pick ourselves up going forward. We are in a crunch decider once again versus India. We were in the same scenario with West Indies at the last World Cup which we needed to win to go through. We find ourselves exactly in the same murky waters where we have to play a decider.
“But good players stand up when it matters. We are preparing well so that when we take on India we are up for it. We have learnt from our mistakes and also we can take heart,” said Mangongo. Zimbabwe will be looking forward to their top batsmen Wesley Madhevere and Milton Shumba with skipper Liam Roche also expected to come in handy with both the bat and the ball.
India’s captain Prithivi Shaw is the man to watch from the opponents. Shaw has lead his team from the front with scores of 94 and 57 not out so far in the tournament. A right-hand opener, Shaw has drawn comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar after starting his first-class career with five centuries from nine games. India are coached by former national team player Rahul Dravid.