Raza stars as Zim XI go down fighting

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Sikandar Raza.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Zimbabwe XI’s frailties at the top of their batting line-up were yet again exposed as South Africa A took a 2-0 lead in the five-match series with a 22-run victory over the hosts in an entertaining T20 match at Harare Sports Club yesterday.

Chasing South Africa’s imposing total of 224 for four in their allotted 20 overs, the hosts were reduced to 57 for four inside six overs before a blistering innings of 82 runs from 42 deliveries by Sikandar Raza.

In the end, Zimbabwe XI came 22 runs short on 202 for nine in their allotted 20 overs.

Earlier, allrounder Lebisa Ngoebe scored his maiden T20 century as South Africa A dominated the Zimbabwe bowlers after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Ngoebe, who had a previous career-best score of 43, played the best T20 innings of his career, reaching 114 off just 91 deliveries. He was dismissed off the final delivery of the innings.

The 29-year-old former South Africa Under-19 star smashed 13 fours and five sixes and shared a 142-run opening stand with Reeza Hendricks, who scored 77 from 35 deliveries.

In reply, Zimbabwe were on the back foot almost immediately as they lost the wicket of opener Takudzwanashe Kaitano with just two runs on the board.

Madhevere tried to counter-attack with successive boundaries off Lizaad Williams’ first over while Ervine was also equally aggressive from the other end with three boundaries in first nine deliveries he faced.

Disaster struck for the hosts when Madhevere and Ervine were dismissed by Williams off successive deliveries to leave Zimbabwe on the ropes on 34 for three.

Madhevere was the first to go after being caught by Glenton Stuurman while trying to clear mid-off before Ervine was caught behind by Klaasen as Williams ripped through Zimbabwe’s middle order.

Tinotenda Mutombodzi managed 13 runs off eight deliveries before he became Coetzee’s first wicket which left Zimbabwe in trouble at 57 for four.

With the game seemingly now out of their reach, Zimbabwe XI took the pressure back to the hosts with Raza smashing 18 runs off Coetzee in the 13th over to reach his half-century off 32 balls.

The hard-hitting middle-order batsman entertained the small but passionate crowd which braved the chilly conditions with some power hitting.

Raza shared an 83 run fifth-wicket partnership with Ryan Burl, who scored 30 off 16 balls before Coetzee got his revenge by breaking the partnership.

Despite the loss of Burl, Raza continued to fire from all cylinders as he raced to 82 off 42 deliveries, smashing two fours and nine big sixes.

His dismissal at the end of the 16th over with Zimbabwe XI needing 53 runs from the final 24 deliveries put paid to the hosts’ hopes of levelling the series.

Zimbabwe will now need to win the third T20 at the same venue on Saturday to keep the series alive.

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