Hobart: Craig Ervine played a captain’s knock of 58 off 54 balls while Sikandar Raza smacked a cameo of 40 as Zimbabwe beat Scotland by five wickets in the first round of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at Bellerive Oval to end up as winners of Group B and clinch the final Super 12 spot.
After Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava picked two wickets each in a clinical bowling performance to restrict Scotland to a paltry total of 132/6 in 20 overs, Zimbabwe were in trouble at 42/3 in eight overs.
But Ervine and Raza shared a 64-run stand off 43 balls, followed by Milton Shumba and Ryan Burl applying finishing touches for Zimbabwe to chase down the total with nine balls to spare.
Whole country behind us
As Group B toppers, Zimbabwe will now enter Group 2 of Super 12 alongside India, Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and the Netherlands for the very first time. Ireland will now move towards Group 1 alongside defending champions Australia, Afghanistan, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka as the second-best side from Group B.
“I don’t think anyone could explain what it means. We’ve had the whole country behind us,” said Ervine. “The cricket we’ve played coming into the tournament has been special, so credit to the boys.”
Chasing 133, Zimbabwe suffered huge blows upfront as Regis Chakabva and Wesley Madhevere were sent packing within the first two overs by Brad Wheal and Josh Davey. Sean Williams fell cheaply as well, holing out to deep square leg off Michael Leask.
Ervine, who had played some delightful drives and switch hit till then, and Raza took their time to calm down the proceedings. Raza then went for the attack by piercing the gap between cover and long-off off Safyaan Sharif in the 11th over.
Raza was more attacking on Scotland spinners, using his bottom hand and powerful hands to take a brace of sixes and a four off them while Ervine played the anchor role and got a well-deserved fifty as well.
Raza fell after a crucial cameo of 40 runs, giving a faint edge behind on a pull off Davey and two overs later, Ervine mistimed a lofted drive to running mid-off. But by then, the match was in Zimbabwe’s favour and Burl finished off the chase with a four hammered over leaping mid-on to seal their Super 12 spot.
Zimbabwe beat Scotland by five wickets. Scotland 132/6 in 20 overs (George Munsey 54, Calum MacLeod 25; Tendai Chatara 2/14, Richard Ngarava 2/28) lost to Zimbabwe 133/5 in 18.3 overs (Craig Ervine 58, Sikandar Raza 40; Josh Davey 2/16, Brad Wheal 1/26).