Zimbabwe: 263/9, Hong Kong: 174 (46.5/50 ov, target 264) — Zimbabwe won by 89 runs
BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN BULAWAYO
Zimbabwe booked their place in the Super Six stage of the International Cricket Council World Cup Qualifier following their 89-run victory over Hong Kong at Queens Sports Club here yesterday.
The hosts joined Scotland, who were the first to guarantee themselves a place in the next stage from Group B.
Zimbabwe have maintained a perfect record with three wins in as many matches going into their final group match against Scotland at the same venue tomorrow.
The two will be fighting for two important points that will count in the Super Six stage.
It was a largely expected victory and Zimbabwe were comfortable from start to finish although they went through a batting collapse that saw them climb down from a commanding position of 181 for 3 to 263 for 9 with Hamilton Masakadza top-scoring with 84.
Still that was too much for Hong Kong, who were bowled out for 174 runs in 46.5 overs with Sikandar Raza taking three wickets while the trio of seamer Kyle Jarvis as well as spinners Sean Williams and Graeme Cremer took two each.
Hong Kong won the toss and inserted Zimbabwe who flew out of the blocks with their explosive opening duo of Solomon Mire (20) and Cephas Zhuwao (45) putting up 53 in 29 balls before the latter departed caught by Waqas Barkat from the bowling of Ehsan Nawaz.
Zhuwao smashed three sixes and six boundaries in his 25-ball knock.
Hamilton Masakadza then combined with Mire to take Zimbabwe’s score to 83 before the latter lost his wicket.
The Masakadza/Brendan Taylor (46) third-wicket partnership yielded 98 runs before Hong Kong broke it by removing the latter.
From there the momentum that Zimbabwe had derived was lost and wickets started to fall regularly.
Even Raza, who has been almost perfect so far, failed to fire this time around making just 10 runs.
Zimbabwe’s last boundary of the innings came in the 32nd over and skipper Cremer explained that as the ball got softer it became difficult to score runs from.
“As the ball got softer it started sticking and it was difficult to score runs. We struggled to rotate the strike, but we still put up a good score because before the match we were looking at a score of around 270 as a par score,” Cremer said.
On his return Williams only made 10 after he was named in the side for the first time since his finger injury in January.
Craig Ervine’s search for a big score continues as he made 25 this time on becoming Nawaz’s fourth victim as he searched for an elusive boundary.
Zimbabwe’s bowlers sought to put the visitors under early pressure and Tendai Chatara got the breakthrough in the second over of Hong Kong’s innings taking out Aizaz Khan with just two runs on the board.
Kyle Jarvis took the second when he castled Nizakat Khan for 13 runs.
Hong Kong worked hard to make sure they batted deep into their overs going as far as 46.5 overs to ensure the crowd was entertained for the whole afternoon.
They struggled to construct meaningful partnerships and never looked like they could threaten Zimbabwe’s total.
Anshuman Rath scored 85 runs, but there was little else and most of the batsmen had single figures.
Jarvis finished with figures of 2 for 20; Chatara had 1 for 18 while Blessing Muzarabani had no wicket in his five overs.
Cremer, Williams and Raza all bowled 10 overs each and finished with 2 for 42, 2 for 44 and 3 -30 respectively.
ICC World Cup Qualifier Fixtures:
Tomorrow: Ireland v United Arab Emirates (Old Hararians, 9:30am), Zimbabwe v Scotland (Bulawayo Athletic Club, 9:30am), Netherlands v Windies (Harare Sports Club, 9:30am), Hong Kong v Nepal (Queens Sports Club, 9:30am).