BLOEMFONTEIN-ZIMBABWE might have been skittled out for their lowest ever total against the Proteas in a one-day international on South African soil in the opening match of the ODI series in Kimberly on Sunday, but coach Lalchand Rajput has chosen to focus on the positives.
The Chevrons were bundled out for 117 in 34.1 overs at the Diamond Oval, beating their previous record low of 119 made in November 2009 at Centurion.
Rajput, who took charge of Zimbabwe for the first time since he was confirmed as substantive coach in August, believes that although it looked like a comfortable victory for South Africa, things could have been different had his batsmen scored a little more runs and taken their chances when fielding.
Zimbabwe wobbled to 117 on an unpredictable wicket, but also threatened the South African top order by taking four wickets for 58 runs only to let them off the hook.
“We got caught up on a sticky wicket; the toss was very crucial because even if they had batted (first) it would have been difficult for them as well. I felt there were a lot of positives from that game; it’s not that South Africa won that convincingly, they also lost five wickets, we had the momentum (and) at one stage we had them at 58 for four, so I think it could have been anybody’s game from there,” Rajput said.
He is convinced that had his lads taken catches they fluffed, they were in with a chance.
“Looking at the positive side, I think if we had taken the one or two dropped catches it would have been difficult for them as well.”
Ahead of the ODI series against South Africa, Rajput declared that Zimbabwe were here to play aggressive and positive cricket as well as to win matches.
He is still sticking to that approach with the fighting spirit from Sunday giving credence to his belief.
“We have not come here to just give a game to South Africa, we have come to compete against South Africa and I think we showed that in the first game on that difficult wicket; we fought so hard that we made it difficult for them to get 118,” he said.
Given a better wicket in the second ODI at the Mangaung Oval tomorrow, Rajput is eager to make amends for the sloppy batting display on Sunday.
“We are are going to try and win the next game and make it one-all and hopefully we have a better wicket because the first one was really bad to bat on. I am sure the wicket here will be better,” said Rajput.
The Chevrons and Proteas meet in the second ODI tomorrow in a day/night encounter where a win for South Africa gives them an unassailable lead in the three-match series. Chronicle