Zimbabwe breeze past Ireland in 107-run victory

HARARE - Zimbabwe edged closer to the 2019 World Cup scheduled for England with a 107-run win over Ireland in their opening match of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers Super Six stage yesterday.

The win takes the hosts to the summit of the table tied on five points with second-placed Scotland but enjoy a better net run rate over the Scots.

Zimbabwe have a superior net run rate of 0.727 against Scotland’s 0.5888 with two games to go.

A wounded West Indies lie in wait for Zimbabwe on Monday at Harare Sports Club and a win for the locals in this crucial tie will be almost more or less confirmation of England as they will only have United Arab Emirates to beat in their final match of the Super Six pending the final that will be played between the two teams that would have qualified.

West Indies are in third place with four points and a win by Zimbabwe will see them on seven points, three ahead of the Caribbean Islanders heading into the last match which carries a maximum of two points.

All-rounder Sikandar Raza claimed his third man-of-the-match award after rescuing Zimbabwe with his  half century (69) taking the team 211/9 in 50 overs which had appeared highly unlikely.

Raza’s cameo included four fours and three sixes with two of the maximums coming in the last over. The right-hander did not have the luxury to celebrate his half century preferring to focus on the task ahead which was to at least get Zimbabwe close to 200 runs.

“We know we can defend low totals and it was brilliant today, first of all to get to 200 was good, we could have been bowled out for 160. Raza was excellent again, he held the innings together and got us to somewhat of a respectable total and our bowlers were sensational today (yesterday),” Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer said after the match.

“I don’t have to really motivate him (Raza) he really wants to do well all the time and he loves performing on the big stage and he’s been a huge asset for us for the last two years with the bat, the ball and in the field.”

Cremer lost the toss and asked to bat first and watched in awe as Zimbabwe crumbled to 87/5 inside 20.2 overs then 112/6 but the intervention of Raza got them to a decent total which they defended in 34.2 overs after Ireland slumped to 104 runs all out.

Spinners Cremer and Tendai Chisoro both claimed three wickets apiece while Kyle Jarvis, Sean Williams and Raza picked a wicket each.

Squads:

Zimbabwe: Cephas Zhuwao, Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Graeme Cremer (Captain), Tendai Chisoro, Kyle Jarvis, Blessing Muzarabani.

Ireland: William Poterfield, Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien, Kevin O’Brien, Gary Wilson, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Boyd Rankin, Tim Murtagh.

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