Disappointed Tatenda Taibu claimed Zimbabwe had genuine hopes of winning after day one of their rain-hit game with England at Edgbaston.
They ultimately slumped to a 152-run loss in the Champions Trophy one-dayer.
Taibu said: "We fancied our chances when we had them five down yesterday, but Paul Collingwood came in and played really well with Geraint Jones."
England posted 299-7 on the back of Collingwood's 80 before dismissing the visitors for just 147 in 39 overs.
Taibu, who contributed 40 runs to the failed chase, conceded a target of 300 runs was always going to be out of Zimbabwe's reach.
"It was very tough," he said.
"But as batsmen you have to ride through the tough times and spend some time at the crease for you to get better.
"We took the match as practice and wanted to spend some time at the crease and get close to 230 or 240."
Zimbabwe's problems started when Tinashe Panyagara bowled seven wides in the opening over of the match on Friday.
"I can't really say I'm happy with the way we bowled," Taibu commented.
"The England guys batted well, but it doesn't really help when you're bowling a lot of no-balls and wides."
Zimbabwe's young and inexperienced team will put the loss down to experience, and Taibu admitted the role of captaincy has been tough.
"It has been hard, especially early on. But it has made me learn that things don't go my way all the time.
"I have to be patient with these boys and help them improve."