World T20: Dominant Raza leads Zimbabwe to victory over Ireland
Ireland’s campaign at the Men’s T20 World Cup got off to a disappointing start as Sikandar Raza inspired Zimbabwe to a 31-run victory in Hobart.
Raza came to the crease with his side 37-3 in the Powerplay, but smacked 82 off 48 balls, before being bowled from the final ball of Zimbabwe’s 174-7.
Ireland slumped to 22-4 off 3.5 overs and never recovered, finishing well short on 143-9.
Scotland shocked two-time winners West Indies in the earlier Group B match.
Ireland face Scotland in their next match on Wednesday, knowing they must win to keep alive their hopes of progressing. West Indies must also do the same against Zimbabwe on Wednesday.
The top two sides from each group will qualify for the Super 12s, which start on October 22.
Raza puts his hand up but Ireland short with bat
Despite seeing West Indies fail to chase successfully earlier, Andrew Balbirnie decided he wanted to do the same in this game, and Ireland started well with the ball.
Left-armer Josh Little, who impressed for Manchester Originals in The Hundred this summer, struck twice as Ireland continued their impressive powerplay record.
Normally sides who lose three wickets in the Powerplay go on to lose the game, but that stat does not account for performances like Raza’s.
The right-hander treated the Irish bowling with disdain, hitting five sixes. He pulled away regularly, hitting 53 of his runs through mid-wicket and square leg.
Ireland took regular wickets, but the fact they were unable to get Raza until the final ball allowed Zimbabwe to post their record World Cup score.
The chase could not have got off to a worse start with Paul Stirling bowled off the second ball, before Lorcan Tucker followed in the third.
Harry Tector and Balbirnie then failed to handle the probing line and extra bounce that Blessing Muzarabani found, with both nicking off to first slip, to effectively end the game.
Although Curtis Campher made 27 and George Dockrell – who was bowled by Raza – and Gareth Delany both added 24 it never felt like Ireland were going to pull off the chase.
Zimbabwe, who have now won eight of their last nine T20 games, were good with the ball, bowling stump to stump regularly, but dropped catches did creep in towards the back end, and against better opposition that could prove costly. (BBC Sport)