Zimbabwe made a wonderful start to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier B 2022 with a 111-run victory over Singapore at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Monday.
Not only were they able to celebrate their greatest margin of victory in this format of cricket, but also their highest innings total, 236.
On a cold, cloudy morning, Singapore won the toss and put the hosts in to bat.
The Zimbabwe batters got after the Singapore bowling from the start, with Regis Chakabva and Craig Ervine setting a cracking pace, boundaries flowing freely.
They reached 51 in the fourth over, but at this point Chakabva ran himself out, pushing a ball from Janak Prakash towards mid-on and setting off in hope of a single while the bowler ran across and very capably threw the stumps down with the batter well out of his crease – he had scored 24 off 12 balls.
In the following over, with the score 65, Craig Ervine tried to hook a short ball from Aryaman Sunil, but a top edge skyed a catch to the wicketkeeper, Manpreet Singh, having scored 34 off only 16 balls, with two sixes and five fours.
He was quickly followed by Wessly Madhevere, who managed only two singles before he drove a catch into the covers off Prakash, making the score 70 for three off six overs.
This brought together the experienced pair of Sean Williams, making a welcome return to the national side, and Sikandar Raza, and they launched a fierce attack on the bowling.
After 10 overs the score was 116 for three wickets and a huge total was already virtually assured.
As their partnership developed, Raza narrowly won the race to his fifty, which came off only 26 balls.
He was followed off the next ball by Williams, who had taken 33.
Two balls later, however, Williams pulled a catch to the fielder at deep square leg and was out for 53, after a partnership of 103 runs in less than 10 overs.
In the 18th over, Zimbabwe passed 200 and set a new record for their highest total in T20 internationals, their previous best having been 200 for two wickets against New Zealand in 2011/12.
Hitting sixes and occasional fours in rapid succession now, Raza gave hopes of becoming the first Zimbabwean to score a century in this format, but in the penultimate over he was caught on the cover boundary aiming for another six.
He had scored 87 off 40 balls, with five sixes and eight fours – the score was 222 for five.
His partner, Milton Shumba, took up the aggression and finished the innings with 22 not out, while Ryan Burl managed a single off the only delivery he faced.
Zimbabwe finished with their new record total of 236 for five wickets, having quite outclassed their opponents.
Of the Singapore bowlers, only Anantha Krishna, the leg-spinner who dismissed Williams, went for fewer than 10 runs an over, taking one for 31 off his four overs.
Singapore really had a hopeless task but were obliged to hit out from the start.
They quickly lost the wicket of Rohan Rangarajan (1), who went for a big hit off Blessing Muzarabani and skyed a catch that was held by Shumba – seven for one after two overs.
His opening partner, Surendran Chandramohan, was more successful, playing some good strokes, but at 31 he lost Aman Desai, caught at the wicket off Tendai Chatara for seven, and at 32 was himself bowled later in that over for 21 off 17 balls.
At 49 in the ninth over, Luke Jongwe trapped Arjun Mutreja lbw for nine.
Singh became the second batter to reach double figures, scoring 14 before he was caught by Madhevere off Burl at 67 for five in the 12th over.
There followed the best partnership of the innings, as Prakash and Aryaman Sunil played aggressively and well, putting on 50 together in seven overs.
Muzarabani broke the stand in the penultimate over by holding a return catch from Sunil, who had made 25 off 25 balls, and in the final over Chatara bowled Vinoth Baskaran for two.
Prakash walked off still unbeaten with 32 off 33 balls in the end, while Krishna had one.
The total was 125 for seven wickets, and Zimbabwe won by 111 runs, their highest margin of victory in Twenty20 internationals, ahead of their 109-run victory over Canada in 2008.
Chatara finished with the figures of three for 14 in his four overs, while Muzarabani had two for 22.
Zimbabwe will be in action again on Tuesday when they play Jersey, who lost this morning by eight wickets to the United States of America.