BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
THE Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket made a huge statement yesterday ahead of the World Cup after stunning giants South Africa by 31 runs at the on-going quadrangular series in Durban.
It was the Zimbabwe team’s only victory of the competition after they lost to New Zealand in a close contest as well as another defeat to India.
The big win saw Prosper Utseya’s boys finish the group in third place behind winners India and South Africa, with whom they are tied on two points, while New Zealand anchor the group with the same number of points.
Zimbabwe will now play New Zealand in the third place play-off tomorrow, while India and South Africa battle it out for the championship.
Young leg spinner Tadiwanashe Nyangani claimed five wickets for 45 runs to help Zimbabwe defend a competitive 269 run target and successfully derail the hosts’ run chase.
Earlier, captain Dion Myers had starred with the bat scoring his second half century of the competition with a valiant 70 runs with inform all-rounder Wesley Madhevere also reaching the 50 run mark for the second time after he was dismissed for 55.
Madhevere put together a 100 run third wicket partnership with Milton Shumba that helped Zimbabwe post a challenging total in the final group game.
South Africa had won the toss and sent Zimbabwe in to bat first.
South Africa looked like they were going to comfortably chase down 269 for their second win of the competition posting 50 runs in just 8.3 overs, opener Bryce Parsons leading from the front.
The hosts struggled for runs after Parson was removed for 65 by Nkosilathi Nungu, becoming the third scalp for Zimbabwe with the team on 104.
Nyangani then snared three wickets in quick succession as South Africa found themselves reeling on 151 for 7.
But an eighth wicket 50-run partnership between Merrick Brett (37) and Tiaan van Vuuren (48) pulled the hosts back into contention before Nyangani bowled out Brett.
Myers delivered victory for Zimbabwe grabbing the final wicket with the second ball of the 47th over.
The quadrangular series has given Zimbabwe a good platform to prepare for the World Cup which runs from January 17 – February 9 in South Africa.
Zimbabwe have a score to settle with New Zealand in the third place play-off of the four-team tournament after they lost the previous encounter from a winning position.
Another victory for Zimbabwe against another cricket giant will boost their confidence ahead of the World Cup.