World Cup Qualifier: Zimbabwe hammer USA by 304 runs to stay unbeaten
Zimbabwe 408 for 6 (Williams 174, Gumbie 78, Raza 48, Paradkar 3-78) beat USA 104 (Paradkar 24, Ngarava 2-25, Raza 2-15) by 304 runs
It proved to be a mismatch of gargantuan proportions as Zimbabwe crushed the USA by 304 runs, registering the second-biggest margin of victory by runs in ODIs. USA ran into a side that has become a juggernaut at home and has been in red-hot-form in this World Cup Qualifier.
Zimbabwe gorged and feasted on runs until they dripped down their chins, and the outrageous hitting guided them to their highest-ever total in ODIs, surpassing the 351 that they made against Kenya in 2001.
After seeing off the new ball, Zimbabwe went all guns blazing in the final 35 overs and were led by their stand-in-captain Sean Williams who was an unstoppable force on the day as he raced to his hundred in a mere 65 deliveries, sending the jam-packed crowd into raucous applause.
Williams pushed on the accelerator to its limits by romping to 174 off 101 deliveries as the tournament’s hosts put up an impregnable total of 408.
While the experienced Williams went bonkers with the bat and started to cramp up in the last ten overs, he was aided by useful contributions from the opening wicket-keeper batter Joylord Gumbie, the man at the pinnacle of his career Sikandar Raza and then Ryan Burl.
Once again, the USA let themselves down in the fielding department; Nostush Kenjige had Gumbie, and Raza dropped off his own bowling, and they both feasted on the errors as nothing went in USA’s favour on a forgettable day.
The dropped chances proved too costly in a game where they were lacking the services of their main men and death overs specialists Ali Khan and Saurabh Netravakar–who were both struck down by flu.
Gumbie and Williams put on a 160-run partnership for the third wicket to lay down the platform for Zimbabwe. While Gumbie looked imperturbable, Williams was the aggressor, milking the spinners and especially debutant Usman Rafiq, who leaked 40 runs in four overs.
Raza then came in and hit five fours and two sixes en route to his 27-ball 48 before Burl clubbed 47 off 16. One hit away from equalling AB de Villiers for the fastest ODI fifty, Burl was caught at deep midwicket off Jessy Singh in the 48th over.
In reply, the USA looked nervous and reeling from the severe hammering they received on the field and snapped under the scoreboard pressure. They were put out of their misery on a paltry score of 104 as Richard Ngarava, who ran riot with a scorching spell upfront, coupled with Raza took two wickets apiece while Brad Evans, Luke Jongwe, and Burl grabbed one each.
Ngarava struck gold early and sent both openers back in the hut. He got Steven Taylor capitulating to a vicious snorter on off that he nicked through to the keeper and in his very next over, beat Sushant Modani’s cut as Zimbabwe’s opening burst proved too hot to handle for a depleted side that was reeling from a flu outbreak in the camp.
The USA captain Monank Patel got out in single figures after miscuing a drive to mid-on where Williams pocketed a low catch, and thereon the game became a point of discussion about records as USA’s resistance quickly petered out due to the loss of wickets at frequent intervals.
There were as many as three run-outs in the innings and two mix-ups in the tenth over by Brad Evans; both Aaron Jones and Shayan Jahangir were involved in a terrible botch-up.
Zimbabwe made four changes coming into the game, with Innocent Kaia, Jongwe, Evans and Tadiwanashe Marumani replacing Blessing Muzarabani, Craig Ervine, Clive Madande and Tendai Chatara, but continued in the same manner as they have in the World Cup Qualifier and will be riding high on confidence going into the Super Sixes stage.
Sri Lanka and Scotland battle for top spot
There is plenty to play for at both ends of the Group B table heading into the final round of fixtures.
One unbeaten record is set to fall as Sri Lanka play Scotland at Queens Sports Club, with the winner set to take a maximum four points into the Super Six stage.
The loser will not be out of contention but with only two places securing qualification for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, that match will have huge implications for both sides.
Elsewhere, Ireland and the UAE face off, with the victor set to finish fourth in the group and advance to the seventh-place play-off.