Zimbabwe 380 for 6 (Sikandar Raza 123, Brendan Taylor 100) beat Nepal (Sharad Vesawkar 52, Arif sheikh 50, Sikandar Raza 3 for 48) by 116 runs
THAT Zimbabwe would beat Nepal in their opening Group B encounter of the International Cricket Council World Cup qualifier was never in doubt for the local fans, but it was the manner in which they were going to achieve it that was of interest.
By Kevin Mapasure in Bulawayo
And the brutal and blistering batting display that the home side produced to reach a mammoth 380 for 6 from 50 overs is exactly what the fans had come out to see on a cool Sunday at Queens sports Club in Bulawayo.
This is the kind of entertainment that usually comes at a cost but here it was free of charge.
Nepal were always going to struggle reaching such a huge target but they fought their way to 264 for 8 as Zimbabwe won by 117 runs.
The local fans might have wanted Zimbabwe to scythe through the tousists’ batting line up in quick time but they were too thrilled by the batting to complain.
The main proponents to Zimbabwe’s big score were centurions Sikandar Raza (123) and Brendan Taylor (100) who put on a 173 fifth wicket partnership.
The two reached their centuries in successive deliveries and were also dismissed in consecutive balls. Raza was the first to reach the milestone, a feat he achieved in just 59 balls, as he brutalized the tourists’ bowlers.
Taylor followed suit, but his innings was more measured even though still quick as he got to 100 after using up 90 balls. After reaching the tone Raza scored 23 more runs before he finally perished earning a rapturous applause.
He had provided enthralling entertainment hitting seven boundaries and nine maximums with some of the balls disappearing out of the stadium.
Taylor on the other hand couldn’t add anything to his ton that featured seven fours and one six.
Zimbabwe needed to burst out of their blocks and that was always going to be the case when they sent in Cephas Zhuwao (41) and Solomon Mire (52) to open the batting after Graeme Cremer had won the toss.
The opening pair of Cephas Zhuwao and Solomon Mire provided the fast start that Zimbabwe sought as they put up an opening stand of 77 runs in seven overs.
Zhuwao’s wicket was the first to fall when he was snared by Sandeep Lamichhane for 41 runs, but he had already plundered four sixes and three boundaries. Hamilton Masakadza was caught and bowled by Basant regmi for 17 to leave Zimbabwe on 108 for 2.
Mire got his half century and he was dismissed for 52 after facing 41 balls. Craig Ervine who was looking for some runs and probably some confidence having struggled of late made 34.
While Nepal were beaten they will also be pleased with their batting as they refused to be rolled overs easily. Zimbabwe had to work for the wickets. Tendai Chatara castled Dilip Nath for two runs to give Zimbabwe the breakthrough as fumbles in the field followed as Zimbabwe dropped catches which if taken could have squeezed the life out of the tourists early.
Raza was also outstanding with the ball as he took 3 for 48 while his skipper had one scalp to his name.
Brian Vitori took two wickets while Jarvis had one on a track where seamers struggled to impact much.