The Sunday Mail
Just what the doctor ordered!
In the build-up to the One-Day International (ODI) series against Bangladesh, coach Dave Houghton had one gospel for his Chevrons — “to keep the momentum going”.
This came after Zimbabwe had sealed a 2-1 series win over Bangladesh in the T20 version of the game. It was Zimbabwe’s first T20 International series success over the Asians. Houghton now wants the Chevrons to make winning a habit.
“I have said it before that losing can become a habit and winning can also become a habit.
“And winning is a habit that we are starting to enjoy, so I would like to see that continuing,” he said.
On Friday, the former Zimbabwe captain got a slice of what he ordered when the Chevrons showed their battling qualities and improved mentality and character, as they romped to a five-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the first of three ODIs at Harare Sports Club.
That triumph also saw Zimbabwe ending Bangladesh’s 19-match winning streak against the hosts.
The Chevrons achieved their win without some key personnel.
Captain Craig Ervine and Sean Williams were missing on the batting front, while experienced seamers Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara were also conspicuous by their absence.
Still the Chevrons found a way to a flying start to the ODI series, which will continue today.
Houghton had to put his faith in a relatively young squad led by Regis Chakabva and man-of-the moment Sikandar Raza.
Zimbabwe’s battling qualities also charmed cricinfo commentator, Ashik Imran, who believes brighter days are ahead for the Chevrons.
“This young Zimbabwe team are full of potential. They will be doing great in the upcoming days. I feel happy for the Zimbabwe supporters.
“It’s a pleasure to watch how matured this young team is and trying to do better and better in every opportunity of this game,” he said in his commentary.
Having achieved rare success inside a month, Houghton hopes his charges will maintain the momentum going into the second ODI today.
“I want us to take the positivity that we had in the T20 into the ODIs, and although the games do not have any ranking points in terms of victories or non-victories, I want us to continue with the winning momentum,” he said.
The 65-year-old gaffer, who has challenged the Chevrons to play positive cricket and express themselves, is so far happy with what he has seen.
“I am very happy with the way the guys are playing at the moment, and it has not come as a surprise to me though.
“I knew that the players we have had so much talent and skill and it was just a case of trying to unlock the finesse so that they could bring that to the party and the games.
“We did a lot of talking and had a camp in Bulawayo prior to the commencement of the qualifiers, and from the first game of the qualifiers, the players played fearless, exciting and aggressive cricket, and we have carried it on through the T20 win against Bangladesh, so I am delighted with the start,” said Houghton.
He is also satisfied with the progress made by the bottom batting order that had been found wanting in previous matches.
“I am really happy with the positive intent shown by the team and in a couple of games that we have found ourselves in trouble, especially in the second and third T20I against Bangladesh. What I liked was we got out of trouble.
“As for bowling, it has always been our strong point. Throughout the eight T20I matches that I have been in charge, I have seen nothing to tell me otherwise; we have bowled really well and made some fantastic catches.
“There was a great positivity, so I am very happy with the way we are playing.”
Despite their new-found mojo, Houghton is aware that there shall come a time when the purple patch comes to an end, which will then test their mental strength.
“It is a roller-coaster: There will be times when we will be bowled out in some games, but I would rather have that and get a score that will help us win than trying to save face and getting a low score that we know is going to make us lose, so I am hoping we are going to continue with the positivity.”