Sikandar Raza starred for Zimbabwe as they beat Ireland by 107 runs in a World Cup Qualifier at the Harare Sports Club on Friday.
With two games to play for each team, the win puts the hosts in a very good position to qualify for next year’s World Cup in England.
Raza was once again the hero for the Zimbabweans, scoring 69 runs off 83 balls, which set up a total of 211-9 from their 50 0vers.
A number of the Zimbabwe batsmen got starts, but were unable to convert it to a big score. Brendan Taylor’s 25 was the next best score as Zimbabwe lost wickets at regular intervals.
After 50 0vers, their run-rate was just 4.22, which would have given the Irish hope of chasing the target successfully.
Tim Murtagh impressed with the ball for Ireland as he finished with figures of 3-36.
Ireland’s run chase didn’t start well. They found themselves three wickets down with just 18 runs on the board as Tendai Chisoro and Kyle Jarvis ripped through their top order.
The O’Brien brothers – Niall (eight) and Kevin (seven) – were also back in the stands as Zimbabwe made serious inroads into the Irish lower order.
Paul Stirling scored 41 off 70 balls, but his innings didn’t mean much as he was not well supported by his teammates.
Once Stirling departed, it became clear that Zimbabwe would win the game by quite a margin.
Graeme Cremer ripped through the tail, picking up the wickets of Gary Wilson (15), Barry McCarthy (two) and Murtagh (four) and Raza dismissed Boyd Rankin (one) as Ireland were bowled out for 104 in 32.4 overs.
Zimbabwe’s next game is against favourites, the West Indies, on Monday, and victory in that will all but secure their place in next year’s World Cup. They end their campaign on Thursday with a clash against the bottom-placed United Arab Emirates.
Photo: Julian Herbert/Getty Images