Zim through to Super 6

HARARE - Zimbabwe eased past Hong Kong by 89 runs riding on the back of Hamilton Masakadza's 84 and Sikandar Raza's three wickets to cement their Super Six berth at the ongoing ICC World Cup Qualifiers at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo yesterday.

There is still a game to go for the hosts in Group A, a top of the table clash against second-placed Scotland scheduled for the same venue tomorrow.

“Very happy to make it through to the Super six, good feeling but big game on Monday,” Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday.

Masakadza, 34, an imposing top order batsman finally shrugged the monkey of his back with a 110-ball 84 runs batting at number three having fared badly with the bat in the first two games where managed to score 17 and four runs respectively.

Barring the quality of the opposition, Hong Kong decimated Zimbabwe’s most problematic opponent in recent times, Afghanistan by 30 runs Duckworth Lewis earlier in the tournament and the half ton comes as a welcome relief for the seasoned campaigner.

In a way it reaffirms the “man of nine lives” tag that the towering cricketer has become accustomed to, that each time he struggles, there is always a silver-lining lying ahead for him.

All-rounder Raza once again made it count with the ball taking three wickets for the team for just 30 runs from his 10 overs.

This was the only match in three that he has failed to come to the party with the bat as he departed for 10 runs.

Zimbabwe leapfrogged Scotland into first place on net run rate; both teams have won all their three matches and both on six points.

The Scots were the first to qualify for the Super Six stage in Group B and the remaining slot is wide open, any of the three teams having an equal chance to qualify.

Afghanistan are a distant third with two points from four matches after finally winning a match yesterday, a six-wicket win over Nepal.

Hong Kong are in fourth place in Group B with two points while Nepal anchor the log standing with no points from three matches.

In Group A, West Indies rules the roost with six points followed by Ireland and United Arab Emirates who are tied on four points while Netherlands (2) and Papua New Guinea yet to pick any points complete the Group A standings.

Only two teams will make it to the 2019 World Cup in England from these qualifiers and Zimbabwe face tough opposition in West Indies and Ireland and should perennial nemesis Afghanistan sail through to the Super six by default, they are likely to cause more problems should the two sides meet again later in the competition.

Yesterday, Cremer lost the toss and was asked to bat first.

Opener Cephas Zhuwao got off to his usual big-hitting style scoring 45 runs from 25 balls including six boundaries and three sixes before he was caught in the fifth over.

Fellow opener Solomon Mire was the second wicket to fall for Zimbabwe for 20 runs from 19 balls before Brendan Taylor (46) and Masakadza (84) featured in a 98-run partnership for the third wicket before the former was caught in the 29th over to leave Zimbabwe on 181/3 after 28.5.

Craig Ervine weighed in with 25 runs while returning all-rounder Sean Williams managed 10 runs before redeeming himself with the ball where together with Cremer and Kyle Jarvis picked two wickets each.

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