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Sunday, 15 September 2013

Historic Test Series: Zimbabwe V Pakistan 2013: Zimbabwe Player Report Card

Yes, what a series, what nail biting test cricket and for those who watched the series between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, although the scoreline read 1-1 in the end, it was clear that Zimbabwe won 8.5 out of 10 intensely fought days of cricket. I was looking forward to bring out the ratings of the Zimbabwean players for this series, since most players would be getting good ratings for a change :) .

Here are the score cards:

So, here are my analysis and ratings - out of 10:

Tino Mawoyo: 5

Coming back from a long injury lay-off, there were question marks on his form and fitness, but Pakistan is a team he should not mind playing even if he is woken up at the stroke of midnight, what with the 163 not out and all that. He did struggle in the first test, and got a rough decision in the first innings of the second one to make matters worse, but boy what a knock in the second dig and what a partnership with Hamilton Masakadza. That was the most difficult phase of the series for us batting-wise, with the pressure of consolidating the lead and wresting the initiative, and that patient 58 amidst some remarkably accurate bowling by Pakistanis rates very high. His chirping in the first test to win mind games against Saeed Ajmal the batsman earns him extra half a point :).

Vusi Sibanda: 3
He got one score of 30+ in the series where every other batsman made at least one good contribution. He is soon becoming the focus of attention as the weak link. He is probably the most talented player in the team (in absence of Williams) but unless he showcases the talent and performs, no amount of talent matters. He held on to his catches, which is a plus and is generally quick in the field, but is in a precarious position with his place in the starting XI.

Hamilton Masakadza: 8

What a series, what an excellent series for the only remaining link to the Flower-Streak era. Burdened with captaincy an hour before the beginning of the first test with no heads up whatsoever as Taylor went on paternity leave, Masakadza captained so well that coaches, experts, and the opposition camp alike kept singing praises. Brought in a great deal of imagination, enjoyment and chirpiness in the field, but probably got affected by the burden when he batted. Took the attack to Saeed Ajmal - the most important thing Zimbabwe did in this test series, and as Taylor took over captaincy in the second test, brought out all his experience to finish as the outstanding batsman of the test, playing the two most important knocks of his life. The second innings rough decision was an anticlimax, but every one of those 44 runs and the way he got them, Gold! Bowled with the same stinginess and control that he is known for, but was unlucky not to get in the wicket column due to dropped catches.

Brendan Taylor: 7
Came back from the paternity leave, looked very scratchy and out of form, but to his credit, stuck it out well, as the two most senior guys in the team laid the foundation for the Zimbabwean victory in the first innings. Had a tricky 4th day to handle, and although did not achieve what most people hoped for - taking Zimbabwe lead beyond 300 - he did well to take time out of the game and added a few runs too. Captained way better that what he has done in recent past, so earns points there too. Little Mason Taylor who made sure daddy missed the first test was there to witness the Zimbabwe win on the last day, probably the youngest kid in the cricketing lineage to witness his country's test victory :). Pic below, of young Mason, courtesy, Brendan Taylor's twitter account...

Malcolm Waller: 6
Form got progressively worse as the series progressed, but a solid counter attacking knock in the first test set the tone and went a long way in Zimbabwe winning many sessions of the first test. His catching in the second innings of the second test under immense pressure was another highlight. Should have done better with the bat in the second match though, given the form he had gotten into through the ODIs and the first test.

Sikandar Raza: 6.5

What a debut! What positive attitude. That makes you wonder what would have happened in the T20s and ODIs if he had played all the matches. Excellent counter attack in the first test in partnership with Waller, and tried the same again in the second innings there too. Lightning and chirpy in the field, he lifted the spirits of the team throughout the match. Unfortunate to miss out in the second match as the captain returned, but you can't keep him out for long.

Elton Chigumbura: 6
He was playing this series effectively only as a batsman as his bowling gave way in the ODI series, raising eyebrows and legitimate questions about his presence in the playing XI. He did very well with the bat in the first match though, controlling his aggressive approach and adding very valuable runs to the team total. Unlucky in the first innings of the second test as the pitch got the better of him. Bowled tightly in his only spell of the series.

Richmond Mutumbami: 6
Solid behind the stumps throughout the series, and probably scored the most important 29 in the history of Zimbabwean cricket in the last innings of the series. Made many a fans along the way, and the test wicket keeper debate is now put to rest for a while. Tough character, fighting spirit and chirpiness in the first test in particular, adding to his final tally.

Prosper Utseya: 6
Zimbabwe needed an attacking spinner, but Utseya isn't one. But to his credit, Utseya's bowling in the first innings of first test was excellent. He was actually attacking the batsmen, and took wickets in the second innings there too. Dismal in the second test, but took crucial wickets in the second innings. Batted with lots of heart and even fronted up to open the innings in the absence of Vusi. Won my heart with that there, always a team man.

Tinashe Panyangara: 9

Well, I wasn't sure if he can take the rigors of test cricket, but boy, did he come through in flying colours? Great to see him in the form he is in. Second innings of first test and first innings of second test being highlights. And good contribution with the bat too in the second match. Excellent stuff.

Shingirai Masakadza: 8
There was no reason to drop him for the second, but Zimbabwe seem to have so many options these days with the pace bowling, and his replacement did well too. But in the first test, he was probably the standout bowler without much to show in the wickets column. He created pressure from his end which led to wickets at the other end too. And played an important lower order knock there as well. Lion-hearted and ever energetic. Great performance when he got his chance.

Tendai Chatara: 10

Well, no, i'm not stopping at 9.5. The guy did everything he could and lots more. Lower order batting and sensational bowling. We haven't witnessed such commanding bowling performance throughout a series since Heath Streak's days. I'll not belittle him by trying to explain this further.

Brian Vitori: 8
Another guy whose fitness was in question. Many did not see too much sense in disturbing the successful pace bowling combination from the first test, but Vitori came on, and strolled through to a 5 wicket haul! And contributed with the bat. 4th day bowling could have been better, but an excellent performance nonetheless.

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