Underdogs put bite on England.
England had been expected to cruise to victory in their opening match of the tournament against an unfancied Zimbabwe side who had lost eight successive matches since losing 14 players to a dispute with selectors.
Zimbabwe were also humiliated in a warm-up match against USA two days ago but it took a composed innings of 62 by Worcestershire batsman Solanki to guide England to 198 for five after 38 overs when rain, which had already delayed the start, ended play by mid-afternoon.
Several of their top order batsman fell to poor shot selection, prompting claims that England had been over-confident, but Solanki insists they had just tried to be aggressive in their batting after losing the toss.
"It was a difficult day, very stop-start and we would have liked to have won the toss as the ball swung around a bit early on," stressed Solanki, who hit 10 boundaries in his 81-ball innings.
"It is a decent wicket and hopefully we can go on to post a competitive total.
"I don't think we were over-confident. There is a fine line between being positive and that is something we talked about and I don't think we were over-confident.
"What you have to do in these games is remain positive and try to execute your gameplan, which is something we tried to do, but it is hard not knowing much about them.
"You can prepare in your normal way, but when you are facing up to someone you have never seen before that is unusual in international cricket because you have normally seen some footage at least and that is all part of facing up-and-coming players."
Indeed Solanki was impressed with the efforts of Zimbabwe, although England should set a target of around 260 when they finish their innings.
Solanki added: "They have a point to prove after their exclusion from Test cricket and they are going to go hard in the one-dayers because it is their only opportunity on the international stage.
"They are a good unit, they have always been good in the field and generally try to put balls in good areas which is what they did."
Zimbabwe would also be happy chasing a score of that magnitude, according to their young seamer Edward Rainsford.
The 19-year-old, who claimed the two key wickets of England captain Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss, added: "We are really happy with the position, we think we are in with a chance of winning this game because our side has been batting well and if we can keep them to around 260 we have a chance."
England will be hoping they at least get the chance of stopping Rainsford's bold prediction - but there is
* USA captain Richard Staple believes his team's opening performance will be well-received across the Atlantic - even though it resulted in New Zealand's most emphatic victory ever.
The Kiwis had Nathan Astle's 14th one-day international hundred to thank for their 210-run Pool A win at The Oval yesterday.
There were also contrasting half-centuries from Scott Styris (75) and Craig McMillan (64no) in stands of 166 and 136 with Astle (145no) on the way to a competition-record 347 for four - and then a burst of three wickets in five balls from Jacob Oram undermined the USA part-timers, who eventually mustered 137 all out.
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|Title Annotation:||Sport Cricket|
|Publication:||Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)|
|Date:||Sep 11, 2004|
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