Hobart, Mar 8: Zimbabwe stand-in skipper Brendan Taylor blamed bouts of sloppiness for his side's poor showing at the World Cup after an agonising five-run loss to Ireland ended their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.(Catch controversy hits WC as Sean Williams, Zimbabwe 'cheated')
Saturday's reverse meant Zimbabwe, a Test nation, had won just one of their five Pool B matches so far and even their success against the part-timers of the UAE was a struggle.
Taylor did more than most to turn things around against Ireland with a superb century that rescued his side from what looked like a thrashing at Hobart's Bellerive Oval but that was little consolation.
"We've been very disappointing, there's no doubt about that," he said.
"We came here to win three games, and we haven't done it.
"There's been positions against South Africa, against Pakistan, even against West Indies, positions that we could have got over the line if we were a little bit smarter as batters, hold all our catches, put our bodies on the line when we're fielding.
"At times we've been very sloppy, and that's come back to haunt us," he added.
Proof of Taylor's words came when, after he won the toss, Zimbabwe gave several reprieves to Ed Joyce, with the veteran Ireland batsman punishing them with 112 in a total of 331 for eight.
"You can't give a batsman three chances," Taylor said.
"Of course he's going to get a big hundred and lay the foundation for his team. Again, we've dropped chances at crucial times."
Zimbabwe's cause appeared hopeless when they collapsed to 74 for four. But Taylor, leading the side in place of the injured Elton Chigumbura, struck a superb 121 under pressure and shared a fifth-wicket stand of 149 with Sean Williams (96), another of the tournament's leading run-scorers.
Williams was given out caught right on the boundary by John Mooney. Replays suggested Mooney might have disturbed one of the advertising 'cushions' encasing the rope, which would have been a six to Zimbabwe.
'There's a lot to play for'
But by walking off the field, Williams cut short the But by walking off the field, Williams cut short the umpires' review process and made the officials' decision for them.
Come the last over, Zimbabwe needed seven to win with two wickets left but were bowled out with three balls remaining.
"I didn't know if the umpire tried to hold him back or anything," Taylor said of Williams's exit.
"I don't understand why the umpires didn't do that, but I can't give you an answer there.
"It just looked from the dugout that it was a clean catch, it was just one of those things, I guess."
Taylor said Chigumbura could return for their Pool B finale against India in Auckland this coming Saturday after his experience was "desperately missed" in Hobart.
"I know the physio will be working with him day and night to try and get him back ready," Taylor added. "There's no guarantees there, I guess, but he's got six days to try and get himself as fit as he possibly can and hopefully join us up in Auckland."
Zimbabwe's task does not get any easier against defending champions India, who've already qualified for the quarter-finals. However, a defiant Taylor said: "It's another opportunity to try and get all three departments right, and if we do that, there's no reason why we can't beat India.
"We've beaten them before back home, so we have that belief we can do it. "There's a lot to play for, a lot of pride at stake. We want to try to finish on a high note."