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A piteous display from Zimbabwe

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India_Zimbabwe_ODI_T20I_series_cricket“It's not bragging if you can back it up,” said the great Muhammad Ali.

Zimbabwean coach and former South African international Makhaya Ntini apparently thinks otherwise.

“We're sick and tired of waiting around for South Africa to send their A team. We want to compete with the big boys. If you send us a team that is not your strongest team, we're going to put them under the carpet so that they go home and tell people that they need to send their strongest team.”

Newsflash Mr Ntini: The not-strong-at-all India just whipped your team black and blue!!

Boasting is one thing. Mocking oneself in the process is quite another.

Ntini’s statement was partly baffling and partly amusing. I couldn’t figure what to make out of it then (pre-series) and I’m struggling to make sense of it even now.

Misplaced arrogance never helps. Never can. Never does. The head of Sri Lankan selection committee discovered that just recently as the ‘best bowling attack in the world’ picked 37 wickets (series-wide) at 41.21 in bowler-friendly conditions (ugh, that has got to sting!).

If such words are meant to gee up the troops, the idea is clever. But you should check your tone when speaking in public.

It is popular wisdom to choose one’s words carefully; more so when your team is down in the dumps - not even standing among the ten best teams playing the format, at present.

If an ODI championship were to be structured on this date, Zimbabwe would barely make the second division. And therefore, it is time they put the cheap talk aside and build a team that can actually compete at this level.

 

 

The batsmen were so tentative throughout the series (a ‘series’ which got wrapped up in 217 overs out of a possible 300), it seemed like they were being made to bat in alien conditions. And it's not as if they're all newbies - three of their top 7 have more than 100 ODI caps- more than enough to be able to show some steel, if not flair.

 

 

You fold and collapse day in, day out against second-tier bowling attacks and expect first-rate athletes to tour your place. Really?

An individual going by the name of Sean Williams was benched for the first two games (when he was fit). This individual has two 50+ scores against India - one of which came in a close World Cup match.

Bowling is supposedly your stronger suit. When you did finally win the toss, what did you do? You batted first.  

Plain oafishness.

Fans are unhappy with you. They have every reason to be.

"I almost hanged myself, if there was a tomato tree outside I would have hanged myself in that tomato tree,” Mr. Ntini said after the second ODI.

Ntini's not alone - a few of his team’s fans were thinking along the same lines.

Meanwhile, India have achieved very little from this ODI series and it has nothing to do with any fault of theirs. Yuzvendra Chahal was spunky as he generally is, and KL Rahul has taken to white-ball cricket like a fish to water.

But one can read only so much into these performances. India was clinical no doubt, Zimbabwe were abysmal all the same. Way too abysmal at that.

Coming on the back of a long and tiring IPL, the Indian audiences wouldn't be watching an Indo-Oz cricket series, leave alone an India-Zimbabwe affair. The dearth of competitiveness ensured that it stayed that way.

This was one torturous cricket series for Indian fans as well; I mean, the few who were watching (or had no choice but to watch). Snail-pace cricket does not have many takers, anyway.

On a different note, I feel sorry for the Ten Network. With Star literally owning all frontline Indian sport, Ten has little or no access to the delicious pie, and the pie they have is anything but delicious. Poor souls!

A 3-match T20 series beckons. Do you care?

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