By the time the PowerPlay ended, Zimbabwe was reeling at 35 for four, and Sean Williams and Ryan Burl knew they had a mountain to climb.
Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman were breathing fire and all Williams and Burl could think of was counter-attack.
In his long cricketing career, such situations weren’t new. But then, at a time when the target is 151 and four top batters are back in the dugout, being careful was important.
“During the partnership between us, we talked about running between the wickets and obviously striking the ball,” Williams said. Striking it clean to hit a four or six was ‘really hard’, so the two talked among themselves and came up with a new plan. “You had to hit the ball hard along the ground in the gaps to possibly get a boundary, but running hard, you still get to 12 runs an over.
So it was a game about fitness. I felt that if we could run hard and get a boundary in between that hard running and keeping composure through that fitness, we always had a chance,” Williams explained.
And that strategy worked. They relied on twos to keep the required run rate under check and would eventually hit a few boundaries. That approach saw them forge a 63-run stand for the sixth wicket, before Shakib Al Hasan came into bowl the 19th over.
Burl brought Williams on strike with a single. He took a couple of runs and followed it up with a four. And at a time, when it looked as if Bangladesh was slowly losing the plot, Shakib slid, turned around in a jiffy and nailed a direct hit at the bowler’s end. That halted Zimbabwe’s momentum.
“When it came to do the run-out, geez, it could go any way, eh?” Williams said, “One stump to aim at, you miss that, I’m running two, I’m still in. But it wasn’t to be. I misjudged the run badly and got run out. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out too well for us…” the seasoned campaigner lamented.
In the final over, the team required 15 runs and Richard Ngarava hit a six off Modassek Hossain. But that was not enough. What was even disappointing was the fact that as the lower-order struggled to find big shots, Burl had to wait at the other end, impatiently waiting for a strike, which never happened.
Williams feels that things would have been ‘hundred per cent’ different had Burl been on strike. “To be honest, when I tried to take the single to Shakib, I was actually trying to get Burl back on strike. Already at that time in the game, we were already trying to sort of say, okay, you’ve got to go here. If I can get a boundary, you can get a boundary, we’ll win the game before the last over…”
But in the end, that three-run defeat was an emotional roller coaster.
“We are just taking it game by game and day by day. That’s important for us, and finishing today obviously we’re unhappy, but it’s an attitude for us that we’ve got to take the positive from today and move into tomorrow…”
Zimbabwe takes on Netherlands on Wednesday, hoping for a win that could eventually keep it in the hunt for the semifinal.
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