WT20 : Zimbabwe defeat Hong Kong by 14 runs in the opening T20 World Cup match
Elton Chigumbura put to rest concerns over his form with a 13-ball 30 which helped set up Zimbabwe’s 14-run win over Hong Kong in the opening Group B match of the first round of the ICC World Twenty20 2016 at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur on Tuesday (March 8).
Zimbabwe’s total of 158 for 8 from 20 overs after being asked to bat by Hong Kong, could have been achieved without too much drama, but Hamilton Masakadza’s men made one too many mistakes to find themselves in a spot of bother before Chigumbura, the former skipper, came up with a belter late in the innings to take it to safety.
Hong Kong looked in the hunt as long as Jamie Atkinson was around but his dismissal in the 17th over and a slump between overs 8 and 12, cost it dear. Hong Kong finished a fairly impressive run-chase on 144 for 6.
Had it not been for Chigumbura, Hong Kong may have had a shot in this game but it was guilty of not zoning in when it was needed most. That would have hurt, especially after how it started.
Having reached 20 from 13 balls with three cracking fours and a six, Masakadza pushed the ball to mid off and set off for what was a comfortable single. Babar Hayat rushed in and brought the stumps down, but it didn’t seem like anything was going to come of it as Hamilton seemed well inside the safe zone. Hayat and his team-mates went up in appeal anyway and the third umpire was summoned. Replays showed that Masakadza was almost near the stumps when the bails were dislodged but both his feet were off the ground at the time, signalling the end to an innings which promised runs and entertainment aplenty.
Vusi Sibanda, who had until then faced just one delivery, wasn’t affected by the dismissal and went on to play four fine strokes from seven balls to keep the ball rolling. It seemed like Sibanda was carrying Zimbabwe towards a good total on his slender shoulders, but the problem he was facing was that he wasn’t finding a partner to settle down with. Richmond Mutumbami was out trying to heaveTanwir Afzal, only to find Nadeem Ahmed at long on. Sean Williams chased a full, wide ball from Afzal and dragged it on to the stumps. Sikandar Raza followed suit by attempting a phantom second run after pushing the ball to long-on.
From a position of comfort to 62 for 4. This predicament that Zimbabwe found itself had everything to do with how well Afzal, the Hong Kong skipper, had done with the ball (4-0-19-2) and how intelligently he rotated his bowlers and set fields.
Notwithstanding Afzal’s astute efforts, Sibanda and Malcolm Waller began a resuscitation programme which would yield 61 runs for the fifth wicket. The runs were fairly evenly scored between Sibanda and Waller in the alliance, but Waller was hardly able to get bat on ball for most part and so decided to do the next best thing: hand the strike over to Sibanda. That move resulted in Sibanda getting his eye in and smashing five fours and a couple of sixes on the way to his maiden half-century.
Any plan this duo had of going over the 150-run mark was scuttled by Aizaz Khan. The young medium pacer wasn’t particularly effective in the first couple of overs but he made up for that by dismissing Waller and Sibanda in his third over. Nadeem Ahmed made it worse for Zimbabwe by dismissing Donald Tiripano the next over. Three wickets for three runs and two consecutive three-run overs meant Zimbabwe was in need of some heavy hitting.
Chigumbura was the one entrusted with the job and he came up with a blinder to build a strong enough total for Zimbabwe to defend
Hong Kong, bolstered by the addition of Ryan Campbell, was positive of chasing down big totals. This was their opportunity to stay true to that claim but the early signs weren’t promising. Campbell, the former Australian batsmen, became the oldest T20I debutant at 44 years, and his age was beginning to show as he barely got bat to ball to the first couple of overs. At the other end, Atkinson too was having trouble adjusting to the added pace of Zimbabwe’s opening bowlers. Tiripano put and end to Campbell’s misery, and Wellington Masakadza did the same to Babar Hayat. Mark Chapman, the young Hong Kong star, came out firing with two fours and six to rush to 19. His blitz, however, lasted only so long, and then it was down to Afzal to come through for his side with 53 needed from 24 balls.
Afzal belted an unbeaten 31 from 17 balls with three fours and a six, and Atkinson came up with a useful 53 from 44 balls with four fours and a couple of sixes, but those efforts weren’t going to be enough against a side which held its nerve when it mattered most.