Harare, June 20 Impeccable performance by Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza helped Zimbabwe chase down a target of 316 in merely 40.5 overs against Netherlands, while Nepal changed gears towards the end of their innings to beat the USA with 42 balls to spare on the third day of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers here.
Williams struck a 58-ball 91 while Raza hammered an unbeaten 102 off 54 deliveries to ensure Zimbabwe’s second consecutive win in the tournament. This was their third-highest successful chase in ODIs, with Raza reaching the fastest-ever ODI century for Zimbabwe when he hit the winning runs with a six. With this victory, the Chevrons have further boosted their claim for a place in the Super Six.
In pursuit of 316, Zimbabwe’s response was led by their skipper, Craig Ervine. He hit nine fours during a quality knock of 50 and added 81 runs for the first wicket. Ervine, however, fell in the 14th over after he miscued a Vikramjit Singh delivery towards mid-wicket where Clayton Floyd took a diving catch.
Arriving at number three, Williams continued in the same free-flowing form which had brought him a century in the last game against Nepal. Along with Joylord Gumbie, who survived several close calls, he added 62 from 44 balls. The stand finally fell when Gumbie (40) ran out of luck and was bowled off by a beauty from Shariz Ahmad.
Raza’s arrival at the wicket meant that Zimbabwe’s run rate picked up even further. From the 26th over till the drinks break, Zimbabwe went at over nine runs an over, bringing the required run rate to less than 4.5. The duo were particularly brutal in Saqib Zulfiqar’s first over, taking 17 runs off the leg-spinner.
Williams fell agonizingly short of his second consecutive hundred when he gave away his wicket in the 35th over to Bas de Leede, but Zimbabwe were already way ahead in the game at this stage.
Raza complimented his four-for with a blistering century which came off merely 54 balls. His blitz included a hat-trick of sixes against the young spinner, Shariz. This was the fastest ODI hundred by a Zimbabwe batter.
The Dutch, who lost the toss and asked to bat first, welcomed back de Leede. The player, who came after fulfilling county duties for Durham, was a late arrival into the setup. Zimbabwe stuck to the XI which won them the opening encounter against Nepal.
Netherlands openers took advantage of a good batting strip in the opening hour. Opener Max O’Dowd, who had an average of 71 against Zimbabwe before this game, showed positive intent and was among runs from the very start.
His partner, Vikramjit Singh, took his time to settle but eventually opened his arms. Together the duo hit nine boundaries in their first 10 overs to get the Netherlands to 57 without loss. They upped the ante after that and ensured that the Dutch crossed 100 without loss by the 17th over.
While the frontline bowlers leaked runs, all-rounders Ryan Burl and Sikandar Raza helped slow down the scoring rate with their disciplined bowling. And it was Raza, who brought the first breakthrough in the 21st over when he castled O’Dowd for 59. In his very next over, Raza had Wesley Barresi bowled after the batter missed a switch hit and edged the ball onto his stumps.
At the halfway stage, the Netherlands were 139/2, with half-centurion Vikramjit still on strike.
The Dutch skipper Scott Edwards rejuvenated the Netherlands innings with a purposeful knock. With Vikramjit, he added 96 from merely 97 balls. In this stand, his contribution was 49 off 48, and by the 38th over, Netherlands were placed at 221/2 and looked all set to cross the 300-run mark with ease.
However, Raza (4-55) returned to torment the Dutch. He got rid of the set Vikramjit for 88 in the 39th over and then uprooted de Leede’s middle stump with a beauty in the 41st over. But an enterprising sixth wicket stand of 59 between Edwards (83) and Saqib Zulfiqar helped the Netherlands cross that mark with ease.
Nepal beat the USA to seal first win
While the USA had their moments in the game, courtesy of a special knock from Shayan Jahangir, Nepal proved to be the overall better side on the day.
Shayan Jahangit struck an unbeaten 100 off 79 balls while Sushant Modani contributed 42 off 71 deliveries as USA were bundled out for 207 in 49 overs.
Karan KC of Nepal claimed four wickets off 33 while Gulsan Jha grabbed 3-52 as Nepal came up with a superb performance in the field. Dipendra Singh Aires claimed 2-15.
Chasing a modest total of 208, the Nepal innings was rocked early on when opener Aasif Sheikh fell lbw to Saurabh Netravalkar at 12. But Nepal batters took advantage of some ordinary fielding from the USA to get their innings going. Kushal Bhurtel and Bhim Sharki added 49 runs for the second wicket before Bhurtel (39) fell to Nosthush Kenjige.
Skipper Rohit Paudel then joined Sharki in steadying the Nepal innings. Though the scoring rate dropped, the duo ensured that Nepal didn’t lose another wicket till the mid-inning mark.
Paudel’s fall to Nisarg Patel in the 27th over brought the youngster Kushal Malla to the crease. He wasn’t able to get going but brought some impetus with his run-a-ball 13, which included a six.
With Dipendra Airee’s arrival, Nepal put its foot on the pedal and took the game further away from the USA. Together they added 74 runs for the fifth wicket. Sharki finished at 77*, while Airee made 39* in a successful chase.
(This article is from a syndicated feed and has not been edited by The SportsGrail)