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Raza inspires Zimbabwe to winning start at T20 World Cup

Raza inspires Zimbabwe to winning start at T20 World Cup

Zimbabwe – 174-7 in 20 overs (Sikandar Raza 82, Wessly Madhevere 22, Luke Jongwe 20*; Josh Little 3/24, Simi Singh 2/31, Mark Adair 2/39)

Ireland – 143-9 in 20 overs (Curtis Campher 27, George Dockrell 24, Gareth Delany 24; Blessing Muzarabani 3/23, Richard Ngarava 2/22, Tendai Chatara 2/22)

Zimbabwe won by 31 runs

Yet another wonderful innings by the incredible Sikandar Raza, this time of 82, played the major part as Zimbabwe opened their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 campaign with a comfortable 31-run victory over Ireland at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Monday.

After being put in to bat, Zimbabwe suffered an early setback, as from the second ball of the innings Regis Chakabva played an uncertain stroke against a ball from Josh Little that moved in on him and had him caught at the wicket without a run on the board.

Craig Ervine and Wessly Madhevere took the score to 37 when Madhevere miscued a pull off Little and was caught at deep backward square leg for 22 off 19 balls.

Without addition Ervine was beaten and stumped for nine as he moved down the pitch to drive Simi Singh, and in the sixth over Zimbabwe were in some trouble at 37 for three.

This brought Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza together, and they took the score to 79 after 10 overs when Williams was out to a brilliant catch on the boundary at cow corner for 12.

He played a slog-sweep off Singh and two Irish fielders converged on it – Mark Adair, afraid he would go over the boundary, just managed to knock the ball up and Harry Tector was close enough to complete the catch.

Raza, enjoying a golden year, was in magnificent form once again as he attacked the bowling brilliantly, reaching his fifty off 26 balls.

He was now accompanied by Milton Shumba, who scored 16 off 14 balls before he miscued a leg-hit and lobbed a catch to short fine leg off Adair – 137 for six in the 16th over.

Ryan Burl stayed only to score a single, skying a catch to long-on off Little to make the score 141 for six in the 18th over.

Luke Jongwe provided Raza with the support he needed – in fact, he actually outscored him in the last three overs, smashing 20 runs, not out, off only 10 balls.

Raza was bowled by Adair off the final delivery of the innings, attempting to finish with a six.

His 82 had come off only 48 balls, with five sixes and five fours.

Zimbabwe finished with a good total of 174 for seven wickets.

Little, left-arm pace, was the best of the Ireland bowlers, taking three good wickets for only 24 runs off his four overs, while there were two wickets each for Adair and Singh.

Ireland, like Zimbabwe, lost their first wicket to the second ball of the innings without a run.

Richard Ngarava produced a fine delivery that lifted and moved in, and the renowned Paul Stirling edged it on to his stumps.

Lorcan Tucker came in and hit up 11 quickly, but in Ngarava’s next over he tried fatally to hit a straight ball to leg and was comprehensively bowled – 14 for two.

The fourth over brought on Blessing Muzarabani, whose second ball had Tector (1) edging a catch to Ervine at first slip, and three balls later the same process was repeated to dismiss the captain, Andy Balbirnie, for three.

Ireland were in serious trouble now at 22 for four off four overs.

George Dockrell tried to dominate the bowling, making 24 off 20 balls, but when Raza came on to bowl he tried to hit his second ball over mid-off only to be bowled – 64 for five in the 10th over.

Curtis Campher and Gareth Delany made a gallant attempt to keep Ireland in the game, hitting out bravely and adding 27 runs in three overs before Campher tried to sweep a straight ball from Williams and was bowled behind his legs at 91 for six in the 13th over.

His 27 off 22 balls was to prove not only Ireland’s highest score but also their longest innings.

Two overs later Delany (24 off 20) skyed a catch to Shumba at long-on off Tendai Chatara, and Ireland’s last hope had now gone.

Nine wickets were down for 111, but the last pair of Barry McCarthy (22 not out) and Little (7 not out) managed to reduce the margin of defeat by putting on an unbroken stand of 32 in the last four overs.

The total was 143 for nine wickets.

Zimbabwe’s pace bowlers had done best, Muzarabani taking three wickets for 23 runs in his four overs, while Ngarava and Chatara took two for 22 each.

Raza was deservedly named the player of the match.

Next, Zimbabwe will face the West Indies on Wednesday before completing their first-round action against Scotland on Friday.