Zimbabwe defeated Australia by 1 run their warm-up match before the 3rd World Twenty20 Championship, which is set to commence from 30th April. Australia, reportedly, lost momentum at crucial junctures during their chase and lost the match off the last ball.
The first occasion of Zimbabwe beating Australia in a World Cup match occurred way back in 1983. On the very first day of that World Cup (June 9, 1983) at Nottingham, Zimbabwe successfully defended their score of 239 and defeated a rusty Australian side by 13 runs. India went on to win the World Cup.
Since the, Zimbabwe has won many matches (even in World Cup tournaments), but they had to wait for 24 years to defeat Australia in a World Cup match once again. This time, the format was shorter than before. On the 2nd day of the inaugural edition of World Twenty20 Championships (September 12, 2007) at Cape Town, Zimbabwe successfully chased down a target of 139 with 1 ball to spare, getting their winning runs in the form of leg byes. India went on to win the World Cup.
Zimbabwe's win in the warm up match does not really count as a World Cup match win over Australia. It doesn't even count as a Twenty20 match win! The warm up matches are not recorded as official Twenty20 matches. So it would to too presumptuous of me to predict an Indian win in this year's World Twenty20 Championship... yet the omens are good.
There are many question marks over India's team selection policies, form and fitness concerns, and talks about fatigue setting in. But amidst all this, if any team were to choose between an ODI Tournament, a Test series or a World Twenty20, they would definitely go for the last option since it increases their chances of winning against all odds.
I do feel that things could have been better for India going into the World Cup... especially on the form and fitness front as well as the selection front. One really can't do much about the fatigue factor... in any case, everyone concerned knew the scheduling well in advance. But then things weren't that great going into the World Cup 1983 or World Twenty20 Championship 2007 either.
India will be playing their first match against the impressive Afghan side on 1st May... and will look to get to a comfortable (if not a comprehensive) win. I am particularly interested in watching the performance of the promising Afghan pacer Hamid Hassan, who has even said that he would like it if his performances are observed by the IPL team owners. Hassan has been a key figure in the Afghan squad, and has played his part well in helping Afghanistan qualify for this tournament. He now has his chance on a bigger stage.
Though the build up to this tournament has been relatively low key (expectedly so... after the frenetic IPL and its abundance of controversies), but it promises to be an interesting one. Who are my favourites to win this tournament? After a lot of thought and some instinct: 1. Sri Lanka; 2. Australia; 3. West Indies; 4. South Africa.
But that does not mean that these are my four semi-finalists. These are just my bets on the winners of this tournament... a return to international cricket.
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