Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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Zimbabwe through to T20 World Cup Super 12 stage

A wonderful captain’s innings from Craig Ervine and yet another glorious performance from talisman Sikandar Raza has powered Zimbabwe into the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 with a five-wicket win over Scotland at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Friday.

Chasing a modest 133 for victory, Raza came to the crease at 42 for three to join Ervine in what was to be a match-defining 62-run stand in only 42 balls.

Ervine was measured in his approach, compiling 58 off 54 balls, while Raza took on the aggressor role, blasting 40 off 23 balls.

Rain forecast for the evening had been a concern for this match, but fortunately, it did not arrive in time to spoil a tense and vital contest.

Scotland decided to bat on winning the toss, and opened their innings with George Munsey and Michael Jones, to the bowling of Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava.

Chatara struck in the first over when, after hitting a boundary, Jones charged the bowler and sliced the ball high over the covers, for Raza to run back and hold a fine catch.

Munsey was in fine batting form, but Matthews Cross scored only a single before he pulled a ball from Ngarava and saw Wessly Madhevere dive to his left to pull off a brilliant catch – 24 for two in the fifth over.

Their captain Richie Berrington, who has scored good runs against Zimbabwe in the past, came in next and was just getting going when he tried a slog-sweep against Raza to be caught near the boundary by Milton Shumba.

This was at 64 for three in the 10th over, which was about the stage where Scotland needed to start stepping up the run rate.

However, they found it difficult to do so against the tight Zimbabwe bowling, and although Munsey and Calum MacLeod put on 34 for the fourth wicket, it took them almost seven overs to do so.

At this point Munsey, having scored 54 off 51 balls, flicked a ball from Ngarava to leg, and once again Shumba was there to hold a good low running catch in the deep.

Munsey had played very well for Scotland, holding their innings together, but he lacked a big-hitting partner at the other end.

At 98 for four in the 17th over, Scotland had to go flat out for the runs now, and Michael Leask scored 12 off nine balls before he played a leg-stump yorker from Blessing Muzarabani on to his stumps.

MacLeod, struggling to score more quickly, was caught by Luke Jongwe at backward point off Chatara in the final over for 25 off 26 balls.

Josh Davey managed a four off the final three deliveries, with Chris Greaves three not out, so the innings closed at 132 for six.

Chatara, very accurate, took two wickets for only 14 runs in his four overs, while Ngarava had two for 28.

Zimbabwe were to suffer an even more difficult start to their innings than Scotland.

Regis Chakabva pulled the second ball of the innings, from Brad Wheal, for four, but was then trapped lbw, a close call, by the third.

In the second over Davey removed Madhevere without scoring, after he dragged a half-volley on to his stumps, leaving Zimbabwe at seven for two.

Ervine, fit to play again after missing the last match, handled the situation calmly and well, playing himself in and then scoring two successive driven fours off Wheal.

At 42, though, he lost Sean Williams for seven, pulling a short ball from Leask hard and low, but to be caught at deep square leg to make it three wickets down after eight overs.

After 10 overs Zimbabwe were 55 for three wickets, meaning they needed to score 78 to win off the final 10 with seven wickets in hand.

Raza was now in with Ervine and the partnership steadily but quickly totted off the runs needed.

The team hundred came up in the 15th over, but just when it seemed that Zimbabwe were on the verge of certain victory, Raza was gone, caught at the wicket off a tiny edge against Davey.

He scored 40 off only 23 balls, with two sixes and three fours, while Ervine had just passed his fifty, which took him 48 balls.

The score was now 106 for four wickets after a partnership of 64 in seven overs and from the last five overs Zimbabwe needed another 27 runs with six wickets in hand.

Shumba now came in, but Zimbabwe were not to reach victory with ease, as off the final delivery of the 17th over they lost Ervine, whose drive off Mark Watt failed to clear mid-off.

He had played an outstanding captain’s innings of 58 off 54 balls, with six fours.

Ryan Burl now joined Shumba with 14 needed in three overs, and the two concentrated on working the ball around the ground for singles.

They scored off every delivery of the 18th over, from Leask, and collected eight of those runs.

Safyaan Sharif bowled the 19th over, and both batters scored a single.

Off the third delivery Burl opened his shoulders and hammered the ball over mid-on for the four that gave Zimbabwe the match and a place in the Super 12.

He had nine off five balls, Shumba 11 off 11, and they had both kept cool heads and played superbly in the tense finish.

Davey was the most successful Scotland bowler with good figures of two wickets for 16 runs off his three overs.

Zimbabwe finished top of Group B, with a superior net run rate to Ireland, who also qualify, both teams having four points.

The West Indies finished bottom of the group after losing to both Scotland and Ireland.

Zimbabwe will now face South Africa in their first Super 12 match in Hobart, before taking on Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Netherlands and India in their other Group 2 fixtures.

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