ZIMBABWE warmed up to their Cricket World Cup qualifier opener with a five wicket win over Papua New Guinea in Bulawayo yesterday.
by KEVIN MAPASURE
The hosts will open their account for the tournament with a match against Nepal and they got the much-needed time out in the field against a fighting Papua New Guinea.
Both the bowlers and batsman got enough practice, as the tourists batted 49,4 overs after winning the toss to make 195 all out.
Zimbabwe used eight bowlers with only Sikandar Raza bowling ten overs while the trio of Brian Vitori, Graeme Cremer and Tendai Chisoro all had six overs each while Kyle Jarvis got eight although he did not manage to get any wicket.
Blessing Mazarabani, Chisoro and Raza took two wickets each while Brian Vitori, Cremer and Malcolm Waller claimed one scalp apiece.
Papua New Guinea showed some resistance with the bat as the first wicket fell with 36 runs on the board, while the second only tumbled when they had scored 102 runs.
After the second wicket of Vani Morea who scored a half century (58), the tourists started to lose their wickets at regular intervals, but they still made Zimbabwe work.
Zimbabwe’s batsmen were given a bit of a test although half centurions Hamilton Masakadza (54) and Brendan Taylor (52) retired to give others time in the middle.
Heath Streak experimented with an opening partnership of Solomon Mire (36) and Cephas Zhuwao (11).
Craig Ervine faced 38 balls for his 22 while Raza had a short-lived five-ball stay in the middle while he scored one six before he was dismissed.
Zimbabwe would have been pleased that the weather allowed this match to go through, after their match against Ireland was abandoned due to wet outfield.
The tournament proper erupts on Sunday when Zimbabwe take on Nepal at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo in a match they will be expected to win ahead of their tough encounter against Afghanistan.
Nepal had their warm up match against Hong Kong abandoned due to rains. They have shown that they are decent side after winning their first warm up match against the United Arab Emirates.
Nepal spinner Sandeep Lamichhane told the ICC website that while they are underdogs they still back themselves to cause upsets and are looking at qualifying to the finals.
“Back home everyone is praying for our success,” said Lamichhane.
“We know it is very tough to make the World Cup, because only two teams will make it. We are just pushing ourselves and working hard day-by-day and just trying to get in good shape. It is our dream to play the Cricket World Cup and hopefully we will make it. To get a chance to play in the World Cup Qualifier is huge. We have worked hard for this, have put in a lot of effort back home. Not just me, everyone is confident. We beat UAE in the warm-ups earlier, and this will give a boost to all the players.”