Zimbabwe knock Scotland out

THE match in a tweet: Scotland go down with a fight! Zimbabwe hold on in tight finish despite more chaotic running between wickets. The hero: As the only Zimbabwe batsman to score more than 20, Sean Williams was a standout performer. The left-hander was steady if not spectacular during his innings of 53 from 36 balls, including six fours, as he guided his side to a total that proved to be just enough. Williams was particularly effective on the sweep, both orthodox and reverse, as Umpire Aleem Dar found out!

The support cast: Wellington Masakadza’s figures of 4-28 underline the quality of his performance in Nagpur, but it’s the way he responded to an early onslaught that made his effort even more impressive. Scotland opener George Munsey reverse swept the spinner to the boundary twice in the opening over, but the left-armer fired in the sixth delivery and Munsey — having advanced down the wicket — was stumped by some margin.

The collision: Zimbabwe lost their first wicket in seemingly comical circumstances, but any humour quickly evaporated when Vusi Sibanda lay sprawled on the turf after a heavy collision with captain Hamilton Masakadza. The duo had attempted a quick single but collided front on in the middle of the pitch, leaving Masakadza well short of his ground while Sibanda stumbled towards his end before slowly making his way to the turf. Play was halted for around six minutes as the injured player received medical attention, but he was thankfully able to continue. Not for long, however; he was dismissed for 4 from 12 balls in the very next over.

The turning point: Scotland would have fancied their chances of chasing down 148 to win, but their chances went up in smoke in 19 action-packed deliveries to start their innings. A period of play that featured four boundaries, four wickets and an excellent one-handed catch from Sikandar Raza left the Scots in tatters at 20-4, a hole from which they never found a way out.

The stat: The narrow loss means Scotland remain winless at major ICC tournaments, a run of 20 defeats that stretches back to 1999.

The catch 1: Michael Leask’s one-handed stunner on the boundary line does come with a significant caveat; the Scot had fumbled the simplest of chances and it was only some lightning fast reflexes that secured the rebound. The 25-year-old easily settled under a blow down the ground from Richmond Mutumbami, but the ball broke through his fingers and appeared destined to bounce over the boundary rope. But Leask quickly stuck out his right hand to pull in what turned out to be an amazing catch. As they say, they all look the same on the scorecard.

The catch 2: Sikandar Raza’s one-handed grab was far more orthodox than Leask’s — and still not as good as Zasheen Maqsood’s stunner last night, but no less spectacular.

The consolation effort: All looked lost for Scotland when they lost their fifth wicket at 42, but a 51-run stand between skipper Preston Mommsen and number five Richie Berrington gave them an outside chance of victory. But Mommsen shelled an easy catch to Chamu Chibhabha at cover to leave Berrington (36 from 39) and the tail with all the work to do, a task that proved beyond them despite some late hitting from Josh Davey (24 from 13 balls).

What it all means: Zimbabwe’s win sets up a winner-takes-all match against Afghanistan tomorrow. Despite two wins on the trot, Zimbabwe will still need a win there to be assured of progressing to the Super 10 stage and they will need an improved performance with the bat against the ninth-ranked Afghans. For Scotland, two losses from two games means their tournament is over. — Cricket.com..au

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