Warriors v Zimbabwe, Pro20, Port Elizabeth March 25, 2008

Zimbabwe clinch a thriller

Ken Borland

Zimbabwe 123 for 8 (Botha 4-19) beat Warriors 122 for 5 by two wickets

Zimbabwe evaded the clutches of a Johan Botha-inspired Eastern Cape Warriors side in the final yards as they clinched a thrilling two-wicket victory with a ball to spare in their Standard Bank Pro20 match in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe, chasing 123 for victory, shook off a wonderful spell of spin bowling by Botha, who took 4 for 19 to reduce the visitors to 91 for 7 after 16 overs. The turning point came in the penultimate over, bowled by Warriors captain Zander de Bruyn, as Prosper Utseya and Ray Price both hit boundaries in an over that cost 10 runs, leaving nine to get off the last.

The talented Steven Nyamusinga finished off the job in a telling knock of 12 not out. Zimbabwe raced out of the blocks as Hamilton Masakadza (21), Tatenda Taibu (22) and Chamu Chibhabha (31) all scored at better than a run-a-ball to take Zimbabwe to 59 for 1 after nine overs.

But Botha would then come on to bowl and he ripped through the middle-order. He trapped Chibhabha directly in front and then Elton Chigumbura clipped his second ball straight to short midwicket. A run out, the third of the innings, robbed Zimbabwe of the services of Brendan Taylor (5) and Botha then bowled Stuart Matsikenyeri (4) and Keith Dabengwa (2), but his marvellous effort ultimately went to waste.

Zimbabwe, after winning the toss, had restricted runs with merciless enthusiasm as the Warriors struggled to 122 for 5 in their 20 overs. The innings only really came to light in the closing stages as Botha scored 23 off 16 balls and Craig Thyssen blazed 24 not out off just 11 deliveries.

Messy running between the wickets saw the Warriors lose both their openers - Justin Kreusch (30) and Jon-Jon Smuts (8) to run outs and the warning bells were ringing as the home side slipped to 64 for 4 after 13 overs. Slow left-armer Price, who also played a key role with the bat, produced a fine four-over spell of 1 for 21 and his fellow left-arm spinner, Dabengwa, also revelled in the conditions and had the batsmen licked as he took 1 for 20.

New-ball bowler Chigumbura also picked up a wicket in three tidy overs for 14 runs.