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2010 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup
USA Under-19 Fall To Zimbabwe

By Lloyd Jodah
Jan. 24th, 2010
Whilst cricket in the United States has its difficulties imagine how much more difficult it is for cricketers in African countries, who face myriad more challenges. This Under-19 World Cup was in fact moved from Kenya to New Zealand, and Kenya could not participate.

Gregory Sewdial (top) scored 35, while Saqib Saleem (below), appeal during this spell of 4 for 38. Photos courtesy of USACA.

The Zimbabwe team has persevered despite that country's socio-political and economic issues. Zimbabwe's Coach Kevin Curran told Mark Ellison of Cricinfo "We've had a really good build up this year. We had a series against Pakistan where they came and toured Zimbabwe, we've had a tour to Bangladesh which was a really good experience for our young guys and then we went via Johannesburg, played at their High Performance Centre and played against their Academy."

But the Zimbabwe U-19s lost the series 5-0 to Bangladesh and 6-1 to Pakistan, and in New Zealand so far had only beaten Afghanistan. Rain delayed the start of play and the game between the USA and Zimbabwe was reduced to 41 overs at Nelson Park in Napier. Conditions were gloomy as Zimbabwe won the toss and sent USA into bat.

Once again Henry Wardley was left out, and Steven Taylor and Andy Mohammed opened the batting. Most of the early scoring for the USA was by extras as the Zimbabwe bowlers tried to exploit the moist pitch and overcast conditions. Taylor went in the second over for a duck, the first of six ducks in the American team's inning.

Gregory Sewdial came at number three and kept looking for his shots as wickets fell around him like bowling pins, Mohammed for 8, along with Saleem and Corns, both for ducks. Sewdial played some good shots, but the USA batsmen seemed reluctant to stay at the crease, and play themselves in.

True, it has been a long tour and whilst New Zealand has been beautiful, and the hospitality tremendous, there must be some homesickness. Sewdial finally went for 35, made off 45 balls with 5 fours. After that Asad Ghous 21, and captain Shiva Vashishat 17, were the only other batsmen to reach double figures as USA was all out for a meager 115 in 33.1 overs.

The highest partnership was 34 for the second wicket between Sewdial and Andy Mohammed. The best Zimbabwe bowlers were Nathan Waller who took 3 for 42 from 7 overs, Natsai M'Shangwe 3 for 15 from 6 overs, and Callum Price 2 for 18 from 6 overs. The Zimbabwe batsmen Natsai M'Shangwe and Tinotenda Mutombodzi began comfortably and took the score to 42 before M'Shanwe went for 27 off 30 balls, which included 2 sixes and 1 four. Mutombodzi made 39 and Peter Moor 21* to give Zimbabwe a five-wicket victory, making 119 off 29 overs.

There were a number of dropped catches, any of which perhaps could have changed the course of the game for USA. On the other hand Sewdial took two very athletic catches in the slips to dismiss Mutombodzi and Zambuko. Saqib Saleem finished with the impressive figures of 4 wickets, 38 runs off 9 overs, but USA never really threatened to win the game.

The Zimbabwe players looked young and as Coach Curran said "Hopefully I can keep this side together for the next two years and hopefully there's one, two, maybe three players who can go on and push to play for the national side in the not-too-distant future.

The USA team, however, now has a final game to decide whether it will finish this World Cup as the number 15th or 16th Team - not a position it will be proud of. But there will be lessons learned from the experience, as USA Cricket CEO Don Lockerbie said "In order to be competitive in international tournaments - we will develop international standards for coaching and training of our teams to improve in all areas of the game - including better overall fitness. Our teams will prepare for international matches together more often and will be coached to understand the nuances of the game and on-field management."

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