Utseya rescues Zimbabwe A

HARARE – Bowler Prosper Utseya snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat for Zimbabwe A against Canada yesterday with a clinical 46-ball 36 runs as the hosts won by one wicket with four balls remaining here yesterday.

Canada batted first and were restricted to 170-9 in 50 overs while Zimbabwe A laboured to 176-9 after 49.2 overs to win a cliff-hanger and take a 2-0 lead in the four-match one-day series.

Utseya, who was included in Zimbabwe’s 15-man World Cup squad this week despite being barred from using his off-spin in international cricket, seemed to silence critics who have questioned his role in the national side following the limitations in his bowling arsenal.

National selectors argued, during the World Cup announcement, that Utseya would be an extra batter in the side, added to his new role as a medium pace bowler.

And yesterday Utseya, captaining Zimbabwe A, sent Canada’s slow left-arm spinner Parth Desai over the long-on boundary for six to seal the locals’ hard fought victory.

“I have been working really hard and when you work hard you will be rewarded so I’m quite happy about my performance with the bat today,” Utseya told the Daily News after the match.

“I have been through a lot, but I’m looking really excited about the opportunity of playing for my country at the World Cup. I’m still a bowler in the team who can still contribute with the bat just like I have shown today.”

Earlier, seamer Tawanda Mupariwa’s four wickets for 28 runs from nine overs and spinner Tapiwa Mufudza’s two wickets managed to restrict the visitors to 170-9 in their 50 overs.

The North Americans won the toss and elected to bat with a couple of double digit scores taking them close to 200.

Nikhil Dutta and Durand Soraine top-scored with 33 and 32 runs respectively, batting down the order, while Umar Nawaz contributed 29 runs batting at number three.

Zimbabwe A’s chase got off to a horrible start after opener Cephas Zhuwao played on to his stumps just three balls into the innings.

The left-handed batsman was bowled out by right-arm seamer Cecil Pervez for a duck. Pervez was Canada’s most successful bowler with four wickets for 18 runs from 10 overs.

Chamu Chibhabha and Stuart Matsikenyeri, heroes in Zimbabwe A’s 111-run victory in the first match with 155 and 50 runs respectively, walked back for identical scores of one run as pressured mounted on the hosts.

Craig Ervine top-scored with 46 before he was caught at slip. Timycen Maruma added 33 runs.

The match rested sorely on the shoulders of Utseya and Mupariwa (26) who contributed 50 runs for the ninth wicket partnership before the latter was caught in the covers with 11 runs to win.

Last-man Mufudza, unbeaten on two from four balls, complimented his captain well with hard running between the wickets and with only four balls to end the match, utseya launched a rocket shot over the long-on boundary for maximum.

Utseya also bowled 10 overs and gave away 23 runs without a wicket.

The next match is set for tomorrow at the same venue.

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