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The Report by Devashish Fuloria
March 21, 2014
Zimbabwe 118 for 5 (Chigumbura 53*, Guruge 2-18) beat UAE 116 for 9 (Williams 3-15, Raza 2-15) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In a must-win match against UAE, Zimbabwe found themselves in a spot of bother more than once, but Elton Chigumbura's belted a quickfire 53 from No. 6 to complete the chase in 13.4 overs. The win lifted Zimbabwe's net run-rate above Ireland's, moving the attention firmly to the Ireland v Netherlands match.
Facing the twin opponents - UAE and the pressure of upping their net run-rate - Zimbabwe lost two of their best batsmen in no time: Hamilton Masakadza heaved at a straight delivery from Manjula Guruge in the second over only to see his stumps flattened and Brendan Taylor, after laying out his plans bare with a couple of lofted boundaries, was brilliantly caught by Shaiman Anwar running backwards from mid-off. The script threatened to go horribly wrong for Zimbabwe, as 22 for 2 soon became 34 for 4.
Chigumbura though avoided the embarrassment with a fantastic riposte. He opened his account with a six and a four in his first two balls, and maintained the same intensity throughout his innings. His last shot - a straight six - not only took Zimbabwe over the line, it also brought him his half-century off 21 balls.
UAE have looked every bit an amateur side among professionals in this tournament and while that makes for a good story, it doesn't really translate to good cricket. Hong Kong's unlikely win over Bangladesh, however, seemed to have given UAE the will to fight. Anwar's catch to dismiss Taylor was an indicator, so was Kamran Shazad's catch at deep cover to send Sikandar Raza back (two nights ago, they dropped a number of simple chances). Once Chigumbura took the bowling on though, the familiar problems started showing up. Misfields. Drops. In the end, UAE didn't really have much cushion.
They had batted well in the first half of the innings. The period between the second and the tenth overs, when Khurram Khan and Swapnil Patil were batting, gave them hope of a competitive total. The two started tentatively, scoring ten runs in the first 20 deliveries of the partnership, before Patil opened up in the sixth over of the innings with three boundaries.
The aggression rubbed off on Khurram. He was on 3 off 12 balls before he hit his first boundary - a powerful sweep off Natsai Mushangwe's first delivery - and followed it up with a couple of beautifully executed inside-out drives in Mushangwe's next over that went for 16. From a lowly 17 for 2 at the end of five overs, UAE propped up their run rate to 6.88 in a matter of four overs.
The hopes quickly dwindled though as UAE slipped to 75 for 7 from 66 for 2 in the space of 25 balls. It worsened to 88 for 8 as the spin-combo of Sean Williams and Raza snared five batsmen between them, including Khurram and Patil, who had added 58 for the third wicket. Khurram was the first to go, top-edging a sweep to deep square leg off Williams. Five balls later, Patil played around a Raza delivery and was trapped in front. The rest of the batting lacked the skill to counter the spinner and proved to be sitting ducks. Was it not for the 27-run stand between Shazad and Shadeep Silva, UAE would have struggled to make it to three figures.
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Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough