Zimbabwe cricket has hit enough lows to be scratching the base of Mariana Trench by now. However, despite being a team that has scored sub 50 scores on three occasions in a single decade, Zimbabwe’s fans have still held on to the team as they battle economic hardships and deplorable living conditions in the wake of the country’s economic crisis. But on Monday, even they couldn’t hold on anymore. The frustration of the fans had reached frustrating heights as Zimbabwe crashed to another defeat in the 2nd ODI to concede the series 2-0 to India
After a usual poor start, the 10th such start against India where they failed to reach 50 without loss, Zimbabwe flirted with their fans’ hopes when Vusi Sibanda and Sikander Raza dug in to stall Indian bowlers attempts to make further inroads. The Modus Operandi looked similar to the previous and many such Zimbabwe’s matches in recent past – loss of wicket would be followed by a period of consolidation in which the run rate would drop and the pressure of falling run rate would ultimately produce a wicket.
And after a partnership of 20-25 off 50 balls, another such excruciating partnership would follow, leaving the team in a position by the 40th over where they have to produce something immensely special to reach 250.
For a few overs in Zimbabwe’s batting, Zimbabwe had seemed to have chucked the usual script. Vusi Sibanda was looking the batsman he promised to be a decade ago when he burst on to the scene, playing all the shots in the book. Sikandar Raza seemed to be growing in confidence and looked to be setting himself for something big. By the halfway mark, Zimbabwe threatened to give Indians a tough fight and the supporters something to cheer about. But then came the implosion that not only defied all logic but left the fans in the stands completely crestfallen.
The Zimbabwe Cricket Supporters Union, a passionate group of supporters, who have held on steadfastly to the team in its trying times emptied the Castle Corner, the most popular part of the Harare sports club which is filled with die-hard fans of Zimbabwe cricket during the matches. All that was to be seen there was a white shabby looking placard that read in bold and capital- “ WHAT A SHAME”.
The slump from 106/3 to 126 all out would have hurt any fan in the world but fans who have little source of happiness apart from cricket were left distraught after the team’s abysmal performance.
When India came out to bat, more banners came out screaming the hurt and frustration of the fans. One of them read "Zim [sic] cricketers should be arrested and face treason.” Another said: “We cannot support disaster, catastrophe and quagmire of epic proportions.” Another scathing placard questioned the players ‘‘What a disgrace do you have love for fans?”
They didn’t stop at brandishing placards and even booed the players. Much to the embarrassment of the cricketers in the middle, their chants couldn’t be escaped as the Harare Sports Club was largely empty and the noises echoed. The frustration was coming out in every jeer and every statement. "I could be making a living, but I am here supporting this s***," said one fan. "Thank god, I am unemployed," said another.
The players were expectedly not so pleased with the fans’ show of emotions. The humbling defeat was already tough to digest, the ire of the once supportive fans surely would have made it worse. Vusi Sibanda, the only batsman who reached 50 in the match, was quoted as saying, “It gets bad when they get personal. We are out there trying our best and we expect them to at least back us to the hilt. I don’t like saying this but I was almost tempted to tell them to try and do what we do for one day and see if they can cope with it. With so much happening in the country, the least we can expect is for them to be realistic”Published 14 Jun 2016, 13:36 IST