Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
Zimbabwe 263-9 (Masakadza 84, Taylor 46, Zhuwao 45, Nawaz 4/47) beat Hong Kong 174 (Rath 85, Raza 3/30, Jarvis 2/20, Cremer 2/42) by 89 runs
ZIMBABWE booked a spot in the Super Six stage of the International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup Qualifier when they thumped Hong Kong by 89 runs at a packed Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo yesterday.
The third win in a row by the Graeme Cremer led Chevrons saw them shoot to the top of group B with six points, the same with second placed Scotland, a team they meet at Queens Sports Club in what promises to be a blockbuster tomorrow.
Minister of Sport, Arts and Recreation Kazembe Kazembe was part of thousands of fans who witnessed the Chevrons put up yet another polished show as they push to be one of the two teams heading to England next year. Kazembe went on to present the man of the award to Zimbabwean batsmen Hamilton Masakadza.
Veteran Hamilton Masakadza top scored with 84, Brendan Taylor was second best with 46 while opener Cephas Zhuwao made a quick fire 45 as Zimbabwe, who lost the toss, were put in to bat made 263 for nine in 50 overs. Off spinner Sikandar Raza made up for an unimpressive batting display with three for 31 in 10 overs. Left arm spinner Sean Williams, skipper Graeme Cremer and pace bowler Kyle Jarvis picked up two wickets apiece as Zimbabwe blew away Hong Kong for 174 in 46.5 overs. Anshuman Rath, in to bat at number four made a defiant 85 but his valiant effort was not enough. Cremer expressed his delight.
“We are very happy, we knew today was going to be tough, they have beaten Afghanistan, we didn’t want to be in the same boat, guys came out firing today and guys really wanted it, I could see it out there on the field,’’ Cremer said.
Earlier on Cephas Zhuwao struck six fours, three sixes on his way to 45 off 25 deliveries before he tried to get to his maiden ODI half century in spectacular style, attempting to clear the boundary off pace bowler Ehsan Nawaz, taken in the deep by Waqas Barkat.
Fellow opener Solomon Mire went for 20 off 19 deliveries, trapped leg before wicket by left arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed. Masakadza however, ensured that the host nation had enough runs to defend. A 98-run partnership between Taylor and Masakadza took the game away from Hong Kong.
Masakadza was dropped on 75 by Waqas Barkat at deep mid wicket off the bowling of Aizaz Khan.
Sikandar Raza was promoted up the order but the move did not work as he failed to get past 50 for the first time in the tournament. He was taken at deep cover by Ahmed off the bowling of Aizaz Khan who struck again shortly to remove Masakadza who was taken at short third man by Nawaz.
Zimbabwe’s batting stalled with the only notable score down the order being 25 by left hander Craig Ervine. Nawaz took a career-best four wickets for 47 runs with two wickets each for Ehsan Khan and Aizaz Khan.
Zimbabwe opening bowlers, Tendai Chatara and Kyle Jarvis struck early to remove Aizaz Khan as well as Nizakat Khan cheaply. Skipper Graeme Cremer, in his first over bowled Babar Hayat to leave Hong Kong three down with 36 runs on the board. Rath held on while wickets kept falling on the other end until he departed in the 47th over to give Zimbabwe a well deserved victory.
Zimbabwe play what is their biggest group match tomorrow with Cremer indicating that they are mindful of the fact that the Scots have been playing good cricket. The fixture was meant to be played at Bulawayo Athletic Club but was moved to a much bigger Queens Sports Club which can accommodate more fans.
“Every game is a big game for us in this tournament, no game is going to be different, we won’t take any game lightly, they have been playing decent cricket, we are mindful of that and we have been playing well also, I am sure there be thinking about that and plan against our against our guys,’’ Cremer.
Across the city at BAC, Afghanistan finally remembered to win with a six wicket triumph over Nepal. In Harare, West Indies defeated Ireland by 52 runs to qualify for the Super Six while Netherlands won by 57 runs over Papua New Guinea.-@Mdawini_29