Harare [Zimbabwe], December 8 (ANI): Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza starred with the bat as his team clinched a last-ball victory against Ireland in a thrilling opening T20I of a three-match series.
Raza put up a clinical display with both bat and ball to lead Zimbabwe to a 1-0 series lead against Ireland.
Sikandar Raza put on a clinic with both bat and ball to lead Zimbabwe to a 1-0 series lead against Ireland in the first-ever international match played under lights at the Harare Sports Club.
On the other hand, the pace trio of Richard Ngarava, Blessing Muzarabani, and debutant Trevor Gwandu played major roles with the ball for their team.
Ireland posted a total of 147-8 off 20 overs, whereas Zimbabwe finished with a total of 148-9 when Blessing Muzarabani got two runs off the final ball of the match, which was the first delivery he faced.
Raza’s spin bowling claimed three wickets, including that of top Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie who scored 32 runs, including a six and six fours. Batting at number four, Raza hit 65 off 42 balls, including two sixes and five fours.
Ireland started tightly with the ball, defending 147, and Tadiwanashe Marumani was out early, chipping Barry McCarthy to mid-on. Josh Little then sent in Sean Williams to put Zimbabwe under even more pressure.
With back-to-back boundaries to conclude the powerplay, Raza helped Zimbabwe’s innings gain pace. Wessly Madhevere reverse-swept George Dockrell for four when spin was introduced, but he was out after one delivery, exposing his stumps and missing his scoop.
Raza and Ryan Burl kept the scoreboard ticking for Zimbabwe, and the momentum seemed to turn in the 12th over when Raza dumped Gareth Delany over midwicket and Burl drove a drive past long-on in a 13-run over. Zimbabwe captain soon got to his 12th T20I fifty before stepping it up.
Clive Madande pulled Barry McCarthy for a six and four to make it a 19-run game and reduce the asking rate to run a ball.
Zimbabwe appeared to be on course for a comfortable victory at that moment, but Little castled Madande before Mark Adair dismissed Luke Jongwe and Raza in a brilliant penultimate over.
Despite the last-over drama, Zimbabwe managed to win thanks to Ngarava, Gwandu, and Muzarabani.
Earlier, Andy Balbirnie’s 32 and small cameos by Harry Tector (24) and Gareth Delany (26) powered Ireland to 147/8 against Zimbabwe on Thursday.
Brief score: Ireland 147/8 (Andy Balbirnie 32, Gareth Delany 26*, Sikandar Raza 3-28) vs Zimbabwe 148/9 (Sikandar Raza 65, Wessly Madhevere 25). (ANI)