Cricket World Cup: Fate favours Zimbabwe in wash-out

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The Independent Online
Zimbabwe 175 New Zealand 70-3 No result

YOU HAVE to worry about the quality of any team who can lose to England, but Zimbabwe are closing in on a semi-final place in the World Cup. Glorious it is not, but fate seems to be ushering them forward.

Had rain not intervened at Headingley yesterday the likelihood was that New Zealand would have knocked off the 106 runs they required in 35 overs, but when the umpires abandoned the game at 4.30pm with the Kiwis stranded at 70 for 3, the tie left Zimbabwe top of the Super Six table with five points.

It is going to take an unhappy sequence of results to stop them qualifying, although the Zimbabwe captain, Alistair Campbell, was a long way short of counting his chickens."The worst case scenario now is that we will finish fifth," he said. "India can't overtake us but we have to win one more game to make sure of that place.

"It's not a bad result but it was frustrating having to sit around all day. We wanted to get out and play. New Zealand were in the better position although two quick wickets would have re-addressed the balance to 50-50." Zimbabwe meet Australia at Lord's tomorrow, and although they will be certain of a semi-final place if the weather intervenes again it was something Campbell would prefer not to countenance. "Other teams might think that way," he said, "but not me. The guys want to get out there. It's the experience of playing in the World Cup and being able to play against top sides you wish for. Your dream day is to play England or Australia at Lord's."

Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand captain who appealed against the light on Sunday evening and consequently cut his side's innings short of the 25 overs at which the Duckworth-Lewis system would have come in to play, was frustrated but unrepentant.

"Realistically we wouldn't have got 10 overs in," he said. "No-one thought the whole of today would be rained out, it was becoming a little bit murky and there was no point running the risk of losing a couple of wickets when you knew you weren't going to reach 25 overs anyway."

Fleming could draw comfort that the lost point might not be fatal. "We have a good chance," he said. "We always said we'd need to win two matches and relatively speaking this one point might be as good as two."