Dubai: Zimbabwe’s undefeated run in the tournament continued as they overcame a spirited Oman at Bulawayo.
Oman showed fight with the bat, but weren’t able to overcome the mammoth Zimbabwe total in the opening game of the Super Six stage in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023, falling 14 runs short.
This result leaves Zimbabwe top with six points in the Super Six table, strengthening their Cricket World Cup qualification chances with what was Zimbabwe’s seventh ODI win in a row.
Oman got off to a positive start in pursuit of a stiff target. Opener Jatinder Singh (2) failed to get going with the bat once more, falling to Blessing Muzarabani in the fifth over. But Kashyap Prajapati and Aqib Ilyas ensured that Oman had reached 59/1 at the end of first powerplay.
The duo, who had stitched together a crucial 94-run partnership in their win over Ireland earlier in the Qualifier, focused on building a strong foundation and added 50 runs between overs 11-20.
The Chevrons needed a breakthrough before the pair took the game away from them, and Sikandar Raza provided just that. He had Ilyas (45) nick one behind the wicket in the 22nd over, to bring his wicket tally in the tournament to nine.
Skipper Zeeshan Maqsood then joined Prajapati at the wicket, and helped stabilize the Oman innings. However, Maqsood incurred an unfortunate injury when he tried to sweep Wessly Madhevere in the 30th over, and had to leave the field. Prajapati kept at it from his end, and scored his second ODI hundred in the 34th over. His knock included 12 fours and a six. This was the first hundred by an Oman player against a full member nation.
However, Oman’s chances were severely hit when Prajapati (103) hit one that ballooned towards the mid-wicket region where Raza ran backwards and plucked out a spectacular catch. Backed by an enthusiastic crowd, Zimbabwe strengthened their hold over the game. Though Oman added 77 runs between overs 36-45, they lost three crucial wickets in that period, including Ayaan Khan (47) who fell just short of a fifty.
A brilliant juggling catch on the rope by Jongwe accounted for Kaleemullah in the 46th over and it looked as if Zimbabwe had sealed the game. Oman showed fight in the death stages, however, Zimbabwe’s accurate bowling carried the day.
In the morning, returning skipper Craig Ervine and Joylord Gumbie were tested by the Oman pacers in the first powerplay, with a number of hits-and-misses and close calls, including a dismissal which was overturned on DRS intervention. Still they managed to hold on, and provided the tournament hosts a steady start.
The Queen Sports Club surface continued unfolding its tricks over the next few overs as the Oman seamers made merry. Ervine (25) was first to go when he swiped and missed against Kaleemullah in the 12th over. Gumbie (21) followed in the very next over, when his mistimed uppercut was pouched by the keeper.
Sean Williams, Zimbabwe’s star from their last encounter, took the lead in run-scoring and along with Wessly Madhevere got the Zimbabwe total past 100 in the 21st over. The duo brought up their half-century stand in merely 51 balls. Their enterprising partnership was finally broken when Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood got Madhevere stumped in the 23rd over.
Williams kept going from the other end and reached his half-century in the 25th over. This was the fourth time he had crossed the fifty-run mark in the tournament.
Along with Sikandar Raza, Williams helped the Chevrons pick up their scoring rate. During this stand, Raza reached 4000 ODI runs for Zimbabwe. He achieved this feat in merely 127 innings, becoming the quickest Zimbabwe batter to reach the landmark. The duo added 70 runs between overs 26-35 to help Zimbabwe reach 200. The irrepressible Williams brought his century in the 38th over, this was his third ODI ton of the tournament.
Fayyaz Butt managed to pin Raza (42) down for lbw in the 39th over. There was little stopping Williams though, who looked as if he was batting on a different surface. He scored 41 out of the 62 runs that came in his stands with Ryan Burl and Luke Jongwe respectively. The southpaw finally fell to an ambitious stroke off Fayyaz down the ground, which was plucked safely by Kashyap Prajapati. His knock of 142 came off 103 balls and included 14 fours and three sixes. Jongwe’s fiery 43* further powered Zimbabwe in the death overs.
Earlier today, Oman won the toss, with Zeeshan Maqsood electing to bowl. Craig Ervine, returned to lead the Zimbabweans after sitting out their last group game as injury precaution, told Brian Murgatroyd he was happy for his side to bat first.
Ervine was one of the three Zimbabwe inclusions, along with Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara. Luke Jongwe kept his place from the last game. Oman meanwhile added Kaleemullah as an extra pace option at the expense of spinner Jay Odedra.
Zimbabwe are out to make the most of their undefeated start to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 when kicking off the Super Six stage against Oman
An upset over Ireland and a five-wicket win over UAE were enough for Oman to make the next round of the Qualifier, though their defeats to Scotland and Sri Lanka mean they come into the Super Six stage with no carry-over points to their name.
It means Zeeshan Maqsood’s men would likely have to win all three of their remaining matches and hope other results go their way to qualify for India 2023, though they can take inspiration from Afghanistan at the last Qualifier five years ago, who squeezed into the World Cup after being in the same predicament.
Zimbabwe meanwhile are in the box seat thanks to wins over their advancing Group A adversaries.
Blazing past the Netherlands in an emphatic run chase on 20 June, the hosts held their nerve with a 35-run win over the West Indies, defending just 268.
Wins in two of their three matches against teams on the other side of the draw (Oman, Sri Lanka and Scotland) should be enough for a return to the World Cup proper, having last featured in the tournament back in 2015.
While playing in the group based in Bulawayo, Oman played on just one occasion at the Queens Sports Club, though will be looking to create happier memories than their 10-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka on 23 June.