Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: Hosts Zimbabwe and the Netherlands filled the last two places for the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia by winning their qualifying tournament semi-finals in Bulawayo on Friday.
In Qualifier B, Zimbabwe beat Papua New Guinea by 27 runs after posting 199-5 in 20 overs, then restricting their opponents to 172-8, while the Netherlands defeated the United States by seven wickets. Replying to an American total of 138 in 19.4 overs, the Dutch scored 139-3 with six balls to spare.
The Netherlands and Zimbabwe, who will play in Sunday’s final, have joined the hosts Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, Ireland, India, Namibia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, UAE and West Indies in the final line-up for the men’s event, which started in April 2021 with 86 different teams competing for a spot to compete for the ultimate prize in T20 cricket.
The World Cup takes place in Australia for the first time ever between October 16 and November 13 across seven host cities, with Geelong and Hobart playing host to the first round.
The final groupings for the first round of the Men’s T20 World Cup, which will be held between October 16-November 13, will be determined after the outcome of Sunday’s final. The winner of Qualifier B will go into Group B with Ireland, Scotland and the West Indies while the runners-up filling the final spot in Group A alongside Namibia, Sri Lanka and the UAE.
Electing to bat first, USA had a great start with a 51-run partnership between Steven Taylor (26) and Monank Patel (32), but from then on, wickets continued to tumble as they were bowled out for 138 with two balls to spare in their innings.
In reply, Netherlands had an early set back when Stephan Myburgh fell for a duck in the first over, bringing Bas de Leede to the crease, who proceeded to hammer an unbeaten 91 from just 67 deliveries to orchestrate a straightforward chase, adding 53 with Max O’Dowd (16) for the second wicket and an unbroken stand of 77 with skipper Scott Edwards (26 no) to seal a seven-wicket win and the qualification.
Big relief for Dutch captain
Netherlands captain Scott Edwards said: “The first word that comes to mind is relief. I think we’ve got a great squad but these sorts of tournaments are always tricky to get through, especially when only two teams are going. But I couldn’t be happier for the group, we’ve had an awesome tournament so far and I’m looking forward to the final in a couple of days.
“Zimbabwe are obviously a very strong side, we’ve watched them throughout the tournament and they are playing some good cricket but so are we. I think it will be a good game and hopefully we can get one up on them.”
In the other semi-final Zimbabwe came out on top with victory over Papua New Guinea. The game was in the balance for quite a while, but in the end, PNG were unable to chase down their target of 200 in a 27-run loss.
Regis Chakabva gave the hosts a good start after they chose to bat, with a quick-fire 30 from 19 deliveries, with Craig Ervine (38) and Wesley Madhevere (42) continuing his good work. Charles Amini (2/28) helped stem the tide, but a 14-ball 29 from Milton Shumba took Zimbabwe to an imposing 199 for five from their 20 overs.
That was going to take some chasing and PNG’s cause was not helped by Lega Siaka being run out off the first ball of the reply.
They quickly found themselves in trouble at 33 for three, but Amini (33) and in-form Tony Ura (66) hit back impressively. Ura needed just 35 balls as he threatened to upset the home side, but Ervine bowled him to effectively seal the victory.
PNG kept battling but a couple of wickets for Blessing Muzarabani (2/24) ensured they would not get close as Zimbabwe set up a final date with the Netherlands.
Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine said: “I’m almost lost for words. It was a massive fight from the boys, it wasn’t an easy semi-final even though we had set 200. I’ve got to give credit to everybody for being up for the fight.
“I’m ecstatic for the country, I think this is huge for Zimbabwe cricket and the next step is going to be on Sunday, winning the Qualifier. Then we look forward to the World Cup in October.”
In the day’s other two matches, Uganda got the better of Jersey by five runs while Hong Kong beat Singapore by seven wickets.
Zimbabwe beat Papua New Guinea by 27 runs. Zimbabwe 199-5 in 20 overs (Wesley Madhevere 42, Craig Ervine 38, Regis Chakabva 30, Milton Shumba 29 not out, Sikandar Raza 22, Sean Williams 22; Charles Amini 2-28, Sese Bau 2-32) Papua New Guinea 172-8 in 20 overs (Tony Ura 66, Amini 31; Blessing Muzarabani 2-24).
Netherlands beat US by seven wickets. United States 138 in 19.4 overs (Monank Patel 32, Nisarg Patel 28, Steven Taylor 26; Paul van Meekeren 2-22, Bas de Leede 2-23) Netherlands 139-3 in 19 overs (De Leede 91 not out, Scott Edwards 26 not out).