Cricket World Cup Qualifier Day 7 – Raza heroics put Zimbabwe in command

Sikandar Raza and Tendai Chatara help Zimbabwe defeat West Indies to boost their hopes of qualification for the Cricket World Cup

Zimbabwe (268 all out, 49.5 overs) defeated West Indies (233 all out, 44.4 overs) by 35 runs

An all-round performance from Sikandar Raza put Zimbabwe in pole position to qualify for the Cricket World Cup in India. In front of a packed house at Harare Sports Club, the Chevrons saw off the West Indies as the Cricket World Cup Qualifier reached top gear on Day 7.

Shai Hope won the toss and elected to field, aiming to take advantage of more bowling friendly conditions earlier in the day. Whilst the West Indies openers kept the runs down early on, they were unable to make a breakthrough until the 16th over when Joylord Gumbie was LBW to Keemo Paul at 63/1.

Wessly Madhervere struggled for only two runs, and Craig Ervine and Sean Williams also lost their wickets at regular intervals, leaving the Chevrons 112/4 at the halfway point. It took the partnership of Raza and Ryan Burl to get the innings back on track, as the pair scored briskly to take the hosts to 199/4 after 40 overs.

Burl was out LBW to Akeal Hosein for 50 in the 41st over, and despite the ball observably pitching outside leg stump, DRS was not available to correct the decision. The fall of wicket was the start of a collapse that also accounted for Raza, out for 68. Zimbabwe would score 44/5 across a seven-over period.

At 243/9, with 16 balls remaining, it was up to the last partnership of Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara to add valuable runs. The pair managed to add 25, before Chatara was run out of the penultimate ball, leaving the Chevrons with a total of 268.

The three previous games at Harare Sports Club had suggested that a score of over 300 was needed to win batting first. But for the first time in the tournament, the surface had offered more pronounced turn and bounce, making 268 seem par, if not a little bit under.

West Indies started brightly in their chase, with Brandon King and Kyle Mayers scoring at better than a-run-a-ball in their partnership. King was caught at slip of the bowling of Muzarabani, and then Johnson Charles’ short stay at the crease was ended by Richard Ngarava. West Indies were 55/2 after the powerplay.

Mayers, joined by Hope, scored quickly to keep West Indies ahead of the asking rate, and adding a 50 partnership. Mayers fell for 56, and Hope was bowled by Raza for 30 three overs later, swinging the scales back towards Zimbabwe.

The game continues to ebb and flow: Nicholas Pooran and Roston Chase added 41 together to put the West Indies ahead of the game again, only to lose Pooran to poor LBW call and Rovman Powell soon after. Chase, backed up by Holder, took the West Indies up to 217/6 after 40 overs, leaving the visitors needing 52 off the last 60 balls.

Here, Tendai Chatara entered the scene. Although he struggled in the previous two games, the seamer accounted for both set batters to give Zimbabwe the upper hand. Raza dismissed Keemo Paul, and West Indies were suddenly 9 down, still needing 45 runs.

Chatara wrapped up the game with his 3rd wicket, as Raza took a sharp catch at midwicket, sparking wild celebrations around the sell-out venue. Zimbabwe had won by 35 runs, a crucial win on their road to the World Cup.

As a result of the Netherlands win earlier in the day, both Zimbabwe and West Indies secured their places in the Super 6 stage of the tournament. Results from the group stage games between the three qualifying sides are carried forward, meaning that Zimbabwe already have four points on the board in the next stage after beating Netherlands and West Indies.

The final round of Group A fixtures comes on Monday. West Indies play Netherlands, in what is a de facto Super 6 game, with both teams advancing and the result set to be carried forward. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe play USA in a dead rubber, as the result cannot impact the Super 6 table.


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