Zimbabwe trounce Singapore in tournament opener, USA ease past Jersey

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Sikandar Raza struck a 40-ball 87 against Singapore
Sikandar Raza struck a 40-ball 87 against Singapore © ICC

Hosts Zimbabwe smashed Singapore by a record 111 runs in their opening match at the T20 World Cup Global Qualifier B at Queens Club, Bulawayo. Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams struck rapid half-centuries as Zimbabwe racked up up 236/5 before restricting Singapore to 127/7 to secure two points and a healthy net run rate to go top of Group A.

Meanwhile, at Bulawayo Athletic Club, the USA recorded a convincing win over Jersey, though a potential injury to star quick Ali Khan might yet dampen their celebrations. Teenaged Jersey bat Asa Tribe and Ben Ward lifted the Channel Islanders to 154/5 after a shaky start to the innings but the total proved insufficient in the face of an in-form Steven Taylor, who made full use of two early reprieves to see his side comfortably home, sending the final ball high over long on to seal the win - and a maiden T20I century - with two overs to spare.

After losing the toss and being put in to bat, Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine got his side off to a rollicking start, as together with Regis Chakabva he took the hosts past fifty in the space of just 21 balls. The partnership ended at 51, however, and Ervine in part to blame for luring his partner down the track with a stuttered start but Janak Prakash deserved most of the credit for a calm pick up in his follow-through and direct hit to run out Chakabva for a 10 ball 23.

Ervine continued to play his shots, and duly perished in the next over via a top edged pull off Aryaman Sunil, but it did little to arrest the momentum. Wessley Madhevere paid for the hosts' adventurous game-plan by driving a wider delivery from Prakash straight to Akshay Puri at cover, but Raza was in no mood to consolidate, taking Puri for two consecutive boundaries in the next over before lucking into a third off a thick outside edge, as it seemed increasingly clear that Zimbabwe planned to back their batting depth and accept risk for runs early.

Raza and the returning Sean Williams racked up a century partnership at a rapid clip. Raza brought up a 26-ball fifty pulling Aryaman Sunil first in front and then behind square for back-to-back fours, and Williams notched his own on the next ball, slog-sweeping Krishna over midwicket for four. Williams fell two balls later, playing the sweep again but picking out deep square to go for 53, bringing Milton Shumba to the middle with the score on 173/4 in the 16th over.

Shumba had a fine view of some superb hitting from Raza as he ran up the score still further, finally falling in the 19th over for a 40-ball 87, looking to force a wide delivery from Mahboob over point but failing to clear the man on the rope. By then Zimbabwe were well north of 200, and the game already looked more exhibition than competition. Zimbabwe posted their highest T20I total by some distance, and bar legspinner Anantha Krishna whose 4 overs went for just 31, all of Singapore's bowlers had gone at tens or worse.

The Singapore reply never really got going, with early wickets all but ending any challenge out of the gate. Rohan Ranagrajan spooned Muzarabani's fourth delivery to Shumba at mid on, and Tendai Chatara found Aman Desai's outside edge with first ball of the fifth, then jagged an off-cutter between Chandramohan's bat and pad to take the top of off four balls later to reduce the tourists to 32/2. Arjun Mutreja fell LBW to Jongwe missing a glance to leg, and Manpreet Singh went soon after, holing out off Ryan Burl for 14, and at 67/5 the chase was effectively dead.

Prakash and Sunil took the opportunity to play some pressure-free shots in a lost cause, and a face-saving fifty partnership off 39 balls took Singapore half-way to the long-distant target before Muzarabani held a return catch to remove Sunil for 25 in the penultimate over. Prakash batted out the game with the tail to finish unbeaten on 32 off 33, but a heavy defeat leaves Singapore almost certainly needing to win both their remaining group games against Jersey and the USA to stay alive in the tournament.

Over at BAC the USA made good use of seaming conditions early as Jersey openers Harrison Carlyon and Nick Greenwood struggled to get going on a somewhat two-paced track, managing just 24 off the first five before Carlyon was cramped on the cut by Rusty Theron and popped a catch to cover. Greenwood sacrificed his wicket when both he and Asa Tribe found themselves at the same end two overs later and the in-form Jonty Jenner pushed too hard to up the rate, missing a premeditated reverse sweep and pinned in front by Nisarg Patel in the tenth over as Jersey struggled to 47/3. Tribe looked to counter-attack, taking Netravalkar for two big sixes over the leg side in the 13th, but Patel struck again in the next, pushing the ball wide out of reach of the advancing Ben Stevens and Monak Patel doing the rest.

Tribe pressed on undaunted, taking Jersey to three figures and bringing up his own half-century with a cracking lofted drive over cover for six off Patel in the 16th, then going inside out again next ball for six more. Ali Khan was brought at the death but took a nasty blow as Ward drove hard back at him and Khan took the brunt of the shot low on his bowling arm, and despite trying to complete the over could not grip the ball on the next delivery. The ball flew out early well off the pitch for a no-ball four and Khan followed it off the field for treatment. Marty Cain was called on to complete the over and saw his first two balls each disappear for six as Tribe and Ben Ward staged a final surge to haul Jersey up to 154/5 by the break, with Tribe finishing unbeaten on 73 off 45.

If the USA were disappointed to have allowed Jersey to stage such a recovery, the total still looked short of par, and Taylor made it look almost trivial by the end. The match looked fairly balanced early as Taylor and Monak Patel starter tentatively in the powerplay, and indeed Taylor rode his luck rather, surviving a missed stumping off Elliot Miles and reprieved in the deep off Dom Blampied in the seventh over. Patel had no such luck when he pulled Blampied into the hands of Jenner at long on three balls later, but his would be the only wicket to fall in the first 16 overs as Taylor and Aaron Jones slowly took the game away from Jersey.

Taylor put his foot down in the 14th, taking three consecutive boundaries off Ben Ward to take the USA to three figures and pulled the asking rate down under eights. Though Jones was caught behind off Blampied on the first ball of the 17th for 38 the result was never in doubt from there. The question by then was whether Taylor would have time to make his ton, a question he answered emphatically on the final ball of the match, launching a low full toss over the commentators' tent behind long on for six runs, a century and a crucial opening win.

Group A action resumes tomorrow morning when the hosts take on Jersey at Queens and the USA take on Singapore at BAC.




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