For Tendai Chisoro and his team-mates, who have seen him play this way for domestic and A sides, his match-winning performance, which included an unbeaten 42 and 2 for 23, was nothing out of the ordinary.By Liam Brickhill in Bulawayo
“I’ve done it before, I’ve opened the bowling in a couple of T20 games and I’ve been successful, so it was just me doing my normal thing” © AFP
Called upon to open the bowling, 15 minutes after he had been pulling sixes off Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite, he struck with his fourth delivery. “Graeme [Cremer] just said: ‘Do what you know best’,” Chisoro said. “I’ve done it before, I’ve opened the bowling in a couple of T20 games and I’ve been successful, so it was just me doing my normal thing.”
At the other end was Sikandar Raza, who had shared an unbeaten 91-run stand with Chisoro, bowling offspin with the new ball. “As soon as we came off, the first thing I asked is ‘How long is the lunch break?’,” explained Raza. “They said it’s only 15 minutes. The next thing you know, the captain and coach got together and they told us ‘This is the plan: TC’s going to bowl the first one, and you’re going to bowl the second one.’ And because it’s still gripping, and it wasn’t drizzling at that moment, we’ll see if it turns. And credit to TC, he started so well. Those two wickets in the early overs certainly put us on the front foot.”
“When we started it wasn’t that wet, so we could grip the ball and it was turning really nicely,” Chisoro confirmed. “And some of them weren’t turning, they were just going on with the angle, so it was pretty difficult to bat at that moment. And then they lost two quick wickets, so the momentum was on our side.”
Raza and Chisoro, and Donald Tiripano before him, had started to shift the momentum Zimbabwe’s way with the bat earlier. From the pit of 89 for 7, Raza and Tiripano rescued Zimbabwe with a 38-run stand for the eighth wicket. Raza and Chisoro then took the team past 200 – and past their own expectations of what would be a winning total in sticky, muggy conditions.
“We had to revise our total that we thought would be a winning total, once we saw that it was gripping and turning,” Raza said. “We sent a message back [while we were in the middle] that we’re looking at 180 to be a winning total. Once we passed that total, we got together again and we thought this is not the time to go ultra aggressive just because we’ve achieved that total. We’ll take our chances, but we’ll take them in the 48th and 49th overs.
“When TC came long, I know he’s an aggressive batter so I kind of have to slap him at times and tell him ‘This is what we’re going to do and this is how we’re going to play’,” Raza joked, “but credit to him. We all know TC can bat. He’s done it at franchise level, and he’s done it for Zim A as well. For an aggressive batter with not a lot of international experience, I think credit goes to TC for how he batted out there. He deserves all the credit.”
The victory secured Zimbabwe’s place in Sunday’s final against Sri Lanka, and both men insisted that morale in the dressing room would be given a timely boost by their performance. “Coming out of a performance like today, I’d say it’s pretty high,” Raza said.
“I think our confidence is very high,” Chisoro agreed. “We’re very used to these conditions now, and we should use that to our advantage, and win the final.”
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town
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