BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
RISING star Milton Shumba produced a remarkable all-round display to inspire Zimbabwe XI to a dominant 62 runs victory in the fourth Twenty20 encounter at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
The 21-year-old middle-order batsman and part-time bowler struck a vital 41 off 40 balls as Zimbabwe XI recovered from 40 for five inside six overs to post a respectable 135 for nine in their allotted 20 overs.
Shumba then returned to claim four wickets for 15 runs with his left-arm spin as South Africa A were rolled out for 73 runs as Zimbabwe cruised to a consolation victory.
The victory completed an extraordinary turnaround for the hosts, who appeared in turmoil after being bowled out for 42 runs while chasing 184 24 hours earlier as South Africa A took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
It appeared Zimbabwe XI would be in for another sound beating in the penultimate match after being reduced to 40 for five inside six overs after captain Sikandar Raza won the toss and elected to bat.
With Regis Chakabva (0), Craig Ervine (5), Raza (4), Tinotenda Mutombodzi (1) and Wesley Madhevere (23) all back in the pavilion, South Africa were on course for another dominant win.
However, Shumba had something to say and he shared a crucial 69-run stand with Ryan Burl for the sixth wicket.
With his partner Burl the more aggressive as he smashed two sixes and three fours for his 31-ball 41, Shumba played the supporting role to perfection, needing 40 balls for his 41 which was spiced up with three fours and a six.
Despite the dismissal of the pair in successive overs, they had laid the foundation for a respectable total which ultimately proved too steep for the South Africa A batting line-up.
Fast bowler Gerald Coetzee was the pick of the bowlers for South Africa A with four wickets for 19 runs while Glenton Stuurman took two wickets for 26 runs.
Zimbabwe’s bowlers were equally, if not more ruthless right from the onset, with Wessley Madhevere clean bowling the dangerous Lesiba Ngoepe (4) with his third delivery of the innings before Chatara removed Ryan Rickleton for five runs.
Fast bowler Tanaka Chivanga also got in on the party, getting the better of Wihan Lubbe with a gem of a delivery as South Africa A slumped to 22 for three.
After playing a crucial role in ensuring that the bowlers would have something to defend, Shumba returned to torment the South Africa A batsman with a magical spell while Raza cleaned up the tail to finish with three wickets for 18 runs.
The South Africans lost their last five wickets for as many runs as Zimbabwe cruised to a dominant victory, which will go a long way in restoring some confidence ahead of a crucial season.
Zimbabwe XI will be hoping to finish the series on a high when they take on the visitors in the final T20 encounter at the same venue on Tuesday.
- Follow Daniel on Twitter @danielnhakaniso