BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
UNITED Arab Emirates — 110 all-out (44.5 overs), Zimbabwe — 111/3 (23.1/50 ov, target 111) — Zimbabwe won by seven wickets (with 161 balls remaining)
CRAIG Ervine scored a brilliant half century to complement some fine work by the bowlers and steer Zimbabwe to a comfortable seven wicket victory over United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the opening one-day international (ODI) at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Ervine, who has been in superb form in domestic cricket, continued the fine run by top scoring with a quick-fire 51 runs off 46 balls, as Zimbabwe hardly broke a sweat in pursuit of UAE’s paltry target of 110 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
The 33-year-old left-handed batsman shared an 80-run second wicket partnership stand with wicketkeeper and batsman Regis Chakabva (38) before the pair lost their wickets, with the hosts on the brink of victory.
Earlier, Zimbabwe, who are missing captain Hamilton Masakadza and senior batsman Brendan Taylor through injury, won the toss and elected to bowl first before blowing away their lower ranked opponents for a measly 110 runs in 44,5 overs.
Tendai Chatara, who finished 2018 among the five leading wicket takers in international cricket, was the peak of Zimbabwe’s bowlers after taking three wickets for just 25 runs in 10 overs, which earned him the man of the match award.
Chatara and fellow strike bowler Kyle Jarvis kept the UAE batsmen in check right from the onset, bowling some tight lines and lengths that had the visitors 38 for four inside 16 overs.
Jarvis had the tourists on the back foot almost after trapping opener Ashfaq Ahmed lbw with his very first delivery of the innings as UAE lost their first wicket with just two runs on the board.
Jarvis would go on to finish with solid bowling figures two wickets for 11 runs in 7, 5 overs, while Donald Tiripano and leg spinner Brendon Mavuta also claimed two wickets apiece.
In total, the seam bowling trio of Chatara, Jarvis and Tiripano took seven of UAE’s 10 wickets as they made good use of the favourable bowling conditions following Tuesday’s unexpected rains.
“It rained last night so it was always going to be easy bowling in the morning and we won the toss and it was easy for us to bowl,” Chatara said.
“It feels good to be taking wickets because it restricts the other guys from scoring at the end, so if you take wickets early you know at the end there will be less damage during the death overs,” he said.
Zimbabwe, who suffered a monumental heartbreak against the same opponents last year which denied them a place at this year’s ICC World Cup, will be hoping to edge closer towards a series win when they play UAE in the second ODI tomorrow.