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Zimbabwe destroy Ireland

by Staff reporter
16 Mar 2018 at 14:00hrs | Views
Zimbabwe wins by 107 runs
Sikandar Raza overcame a dry pitch and a disciplined Ireland attack to haul Zimbabwe from 139 for 7 to 211 for 9. While every other batsman struggled to come to grips with a slower-than-usual Harare surface, Raza paired brain with brawn: he manipulated the fields smartly in the middle overs before providing the innings a finishing kick.

However, Raza endured a painful start to his innings after coming in to bat in the 21st over with the score on 87 for 5. Boyd Rankin - six feet, seven inches tall - found extra bounce from a back of a length and struck him on the right glove. Raza shook it off and settled into his shot-making stride when he hit Barry McCarthy for back-to-back boundaries in the 30th over. He first tugged a short ball over midwicket for a six before jabbing an outside edge for four. At the other end, Tendai Chisoro defended competently and belted three fours in a 42-run partnership for the eighth wicket - the highest of the innings.

Once Murtagh removed Chisoro and Kyle Jarvis in the 45th and 47th overs, Raza farmed the strike and ensured that Zimbabwe would not only bat out their full quota but also post a score above 200. He raised his fifty off 73 deliveries. Then he went on to strike two sixes and a four off the last eight balls of the innings, the pick of them a flat-batted smash over long-on. Raza received a rousing reception from a passionate Harare crowd, and with four spin options in their line-up, Zimbabwe might have been the happier side at the innings break.

Zimbabwe's innings had begun in a mood of revelry too. Opener Cephas Zhuwao had Harare's Castle Corner buzzing with a brace of sixes off Tim Murtagh, including one that soared over midwicket, roughly in the direction of the rugby ground.

Ireland seamer McCarthy understood the need of the hour better and went straight to plan B: knuckle balls. Taking the pace off worked almost immediately, although it was the offcutter which had Zhuwao holing out to long-on for 20 off 18 balls. Solomon Mire, the other opener, ran past a non-turning offbreak from McBrine to be stumped in emphatic fashion. Five balls later, Rankin's extra bounce forced Hamilton Masakadza to nick behind and Zimbabwe were 50 for 3 in 9.4 overs.

Taylor showed promise when he forayed down the track and nonchalantly launched McBrine over his head and out of the attack. The offspinner would however, return and strike in the first over of his second spell to trap Taylor lbw for 25 (although the ball did seem as if it would miss leg stump)

Raza watched Williams, Ervine - a tight run-out call from TV umpire Michael Gough - and his captain Graeme Cremer fall around him, but he held the innings together brilliantly along with the tail to give Zimbabwe's bowlers something to bowl at.



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