Saturday, May 18, 2024

World Cup Qualifier: Raza’s all-round heroics help Zimbabwe beat West Indies by 35 runs

Sikandar Raza’s impressive all-round show (68 off 58 and 2/36) helped Zimbabwe beat Zimbabwe by 35 runs in a group A match of the ICC Mens Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 match, here on Saturday.

It all started to go wrong for WI with the new ball, which Joylord Gumbie and Criag Ervine took advantage of, but a familiar collapse of 3 for 27 saw Zimbabwe back to rebuilding, which Player-of-the-Match Raza did with aplomb.

Zimbabwe struck twice in the first 10 overs to make a comeback after Brandon King and Kyle Mayers had helped their side to an impressive start. After taking Tendai Chatara’s third over for 14 runs, West Indies seemed to be in complete control of the first powerplay.

However, Blessing Muzarabani got a breakthrough in his very first over to remove King for 20. Zimbabwe got their second success when left-arm pacer Richard Ngrava got rid of Johnson Charles in the 10th over. They could’ve had another one off the last ball but the fielder missed a straightforward run out opportunity. The score was 55/2 at the end of the first powerplay and it was still anyone’s game.

Disciplined bowling from Zimbabwe ensured that the pressure increased on Shai Hope and Mayers, as the duo collected only eight runs between overs 11-14. However, Mayers struck a hat-trick of fours in the 15th over to lift West Indies.

The crucial third wicket stand of 64 from 67 helped West Indies get past 100. It was Wellington Masakadza who gave Craig Ervine’s men their next success, when he had Mayers for 56 in the 21st over. Nicholas Pooran came in at no. 5 and continued in his characteristic free-flowing style. He got off the mark with a hat-trick of boundaries.

However, any aspirations of another match-turning Hope-Pooran stand were nipped in the bud by the talismanic Sikandar Raza, who cleaned up Hope in the 24th over. Pooran (34) then struck a patient 41-run partnership with Roston Chase, but his dismissal in the 32nd over again changed the flavour of the game. Muzarabani got Rovman Powell in the very next over to put Zimbabwe on the top.

Having found a way into the West Indies tail, the Zimbabwe bowlers were relentless and kept going for wickets. Chatara made a brilliant comeback after a poor start to finish at 3/52, Raza added two wickets to another exceptional batting performance, while Richard Ngrava starred with wickets of Charles and Pooran.

Earlier, an important 87-run stand between Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl had helped Zimbabwe to a respectable total of 268-10 after West Indies had delivered crucial blows in the first half of their innings.

Neither side gained the upper hand in the first powerplay, as West Indies were without a wicket while Zimbabwe were restricted to under four runs an over. This was the first time in 10 ODIs that West Indies were without a wicket in the powerplay overs.

While Zimbabwe managed to marginally increase their scoring rate hereafter, West Indies remained sharp on the field and held on to their chances. Joylord Gumbie (26) was lbw to Keemo Paul in the 16th over. Soon after, Wessly Madhevere (2) was caught at the mid-on off Akeal Hosein.

Zimbabwe would’ve hoped for the experienced pair of Craig Ervine and Sean Williams to come good in this tough hour. But their troubles compounded when Ervine fell to an ill-timed reverse sweep for 47.

Williams and Sikandar Raza then adopted an aggressive approach against West Indies bowlers. While this yielded quick runs, it also brought about the southpaw’s demise. Williams fell for 23 when he tried to swipe a rising Alzarri Joseph delivery over the mid wicket in the 25th over.

Last game’s record centurion Raza, then joined hands with Ryan Burl to revive Zimbabwe. The duo survived some close chances, before picking up pace and going for their shots. Their fifth wicket stand added 87 runs off 94 balls, before Burl fell lbw to Hosein for 50. Raza kept scoring at a brisk pace and brought up his half-century with back-to-back boundaries against Jason Holder in the 42nd over.

The all-rounder eventually fell for 68 after pulling a Kyle Mayers delivery to Joseph in the deep. The West Indies bowlers fought back in the final powerplay to pick six wickets, though slack work towards the end helped the final pair to add 25 runs off 15 balls.

Historically, the Men in Maroon have dominated Zimbabwe in the ODI format, with 36 wins in 49 games but they’ll know that the hosts have been in exceptional touch in the tournament.

Brief Scores: Zimbabwe 268 in 49.5 overs (Raza 68, Burl 50, Ervine 47; Keemo Paul 3-61) beat WI 233 in 44.4 overs (Mayers 56; Chatara 3-52, Ngarava 2-25) by 35 runs

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