UAE 235 for 7 in 47.5 overs (Rameez Shahzad 59, Sikandar Raza 3-41) beat Zimbabwe 226 for 7 in 40 over (Sean Williams 80, Mohammad Naveed 3-40) by 3 runs (D/L method)
ZIMBABWE’S quest for a place at the International Cricket Council World Cup ended with a dampener yesterday after they lost by 3 runs to the United Arab Emirates in a must-win Super six match at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE
Zimbabwe needed a win to guarantee themselves a place in Sunday’s final of this tournament and more importantly a place at England and Wales next year.
And with the opponent being the United Arab Emirates, it looked routine for Zimbabwe to take maximum points in this one and confirm a date with the Windies on Sunday.
Yet the former pulled off their first ever win over a Test playing nation to dump Zimbabwe out.
Zimbabwe won the toss and decided to bat first which came as a surprise to many as they had never chased in this series and had also rode on good bowling in the second innings of most of their matches this far.
Rains had been focused and they did come towards the end of the tourists’ innings which was cut short on 237 on 47.4 overs and the delay resulted in a revised target of 230 for Zimbabwe in 40 overs.
To start with, even after the United Arab Emirates had been put in to bat, few expected them to bat the way they did.
They came out with good discipline and took advantage of a flat wicket to put runs on the board and make the job tough for Zimbabwe.
Their total, coupled with good bowling and their clinical approach in the field ensured that the task was made tougher for Zimbabwe than they had anticipated.
Rameez Shazad made 59 as the Asians carried themselves to a formidable score in their pursuit of only their first win in the Super Six stage.
After Zimbabwe took their first wicket with the United Arab Emirates on 18 runs , it looked like they would manage to restrict their opponents to a low score, but the second wicket only arrived with 92 runs on the board.
Spin managed to slow things down for the United Arab Emirates with Sikandar Raza taking three wickets in the end while Sean Williams had one.
Seamer Tendai Chatara took two with Blessing Muzarabani taking one, while skipper Graeme Cremer was scalp less but economical after he went for 34 runs in 10 overs.
Following the rains and the lengthy and complicated removal of the covers, came Zimbabwe’s chance to bat and that came with a lot of anxiety and then later on the disappointment.
First it was Solomon Mire losing his wicket with just six runs on the board after he had been partnered by Hamilton Masakadza with Cephas Zhuwao having been dropped.
Masakadza was joined by Taylor but the former did not last too long himself after he dragged the ball on to his stumps off Muhammad Naveed to leave Zimbabwe limping at 18 for 2.
With Taylor in and Raza still out, there was always a lot of hope, but soon it was the former trudging to the hut after he was beaten clean by Ahmed Raza for 15.
Peter Moor had come in at number three and to his credit held things up together but he followed Taylor to the hut and leaving Raza and Sean Williams (80).
This was the crucial wicket for Zimbabwe and for a long period they looked good until disaster struck with the falling of Raza’s wicket.
On 34.5 it was 185 for 5 and looking doomed.
If that wasn’t a big enough scare, Williams then followed in the 37th over leaving the lower order with so much to do. In the end Zimbabwe needed six runs from the last ball and Craig Ervine failed to clear the boundary, let alone reach it.
The shock defeat means they end with five points whereas Afghanistan and Ireland, who will play each other today, have four each.
Whoever wins this one will take the 10th spot in the World Cup but Zimbabwe still have a slim and improbable chance of making it which rests on the Afghanistan-Ireland match ending in a tie.
In that case, all three teams will be tied on five points each but both Afghanistan’s and Ireland’s net run rate will take a beating since the teams will be conceding as many runs as they score.