2015 ICC WC: Zimbabwe keep calm and carry on in thriller against UAE


February 19, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Zimbabwe 286 for 6 (Williams 76, Taylor 47) beat UAE 285 for 7 (Anwar 67, Khurram 45, Chatara 3-42) by 4 wickets

Sean Williams exults after hitting the winning runs, United Arab Emirates v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2015, Group B, Nelson, February 19, 2015

February 19, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Zimbabwe 286 for 6 (Williams 76, Taylor 47) beat UAE 285 for 7 (Anwar 67, Khurram 45, Chatara 3-42) by 4 wickets

Sean Williams exults after hitting the winning runs, United Arab Emirates v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2015, Group B, Nelson, February 19, 2015

Saxton, Nelson, NZ: Had it not been for the bright red of Zimbabwe’s strip and the matt grey of the United Arab Emirates’, it would have been difficult to tell which team was which, so well matched were the two at the Saxton Oval in Nelson on Thursday (February 19). As it turned out, the more experienced team held their nerve to seal the deal late in the game.

It was not merely inspiration that UAE had taken from Ireland’s stunning win over West Indies, it was a template on how to bat against teams that are thought to be much better than yours. Wickets fell, nerves jangled, but batsmen of all descriptions played with dead-set determination. Not one pair at the crease looked remotely like it might settle for occupation and a middling score. The captain had publicly demanded 300 runs, and each batsman took it as his duty to make this happen.

When Zimbabwe put UAE in, they would have known that the first half hour was the best time to bowl, with two new balls in play and just a bit in the air. Tinashe Panyangara got excellent shape into the left-hand batsmen and Tendai Chatara banged ball in, extracting good bounce and hitting the bat hard. With the opening batsmen being more than a touch nervy, the edges came, but initially either fell short of slip or went just past the outstretched wicketkeeper. A further reprieve came in the form a wicket off a no-ball, but, just when it appeared that the early storm was weathered, came a wobble.

Amjad Ali, he of the swishing blade, and Andri Berenger, the young batsman from Colombo who has made UAE his home, fell in succession, leaving UAE at 40 for 2.

Khurram Khan, the UAE’s best batsman, and Krishna Chandran Karate then began to rebuild. Khurram was confident and assertive, playing some pleasing shots, and though Krishna Chandran was streaky, he stuck it out. The two added 82 for the third wicket, and just when it would have been time to kick on and force the pace, a wicket fell.

Krishna Chandran (34) miscued while trying to clear the infield and only managed to find mid-off. Khurram, who was well on his way to a half-century, fell soon after, Sean Williams taking a smart catch at point when the batsman failed to keep a cut shot down. Khurram had made 45, but the UAE would have been hoping for something more substantial from him.

A second phase of consolidation was called for, and the men who took up the cudgels were Swapnil Patil, the wicketkeeper-bat who once plied his trade in Thane, Mumbai, and Shaiman Anwar, all the way from Sialkot in Pakistan. Patil was content nudging, nurdling and turning the strike over while Anwar opened up after getting his eye in. Carving the ball expertly over cover on more than one occasion, and pushing hard for singles, Anwar played the shot of the day in the 40th over, picking up a length ball from Panyangara and hitting it straight into the sight screen. The shot brought up Anwar’s half-century, off only 37 balls, and UAE’s 200 in the middle of a powerplay that yielded 48 runs for the loss of no wickets.

For the second time in the game, however, a wicket fell just when a partnership was looking dangerous as Patil (32) tried to emulate his more aggressive partner but got under the ball, hitting it high into the off side to be easily caught. The second 82-run stand of the day was the highest for the fifth wicket in any One-Day International by the UAE.

When the time came to finish strongly, UAE’s batsmen played a few shots too many, Rohan Mustafa and Anwar (67) falling in the space of two runs as UAE slumped to 232 for 7. Muhammad Naveed attempted to make up for this, and waded into Chatara, launching him over long off and then pulling muscularly over square-leg for sixes.

Amjad Javed, coming in at No. 8, batted like a pro, repeatedly backing away to crash the ball over the off side. Playing a difficult shot with power and safety, Javed was good enough to send one ball deep into the crowd over cover. The late surge, in which the 53 runs came off only 35 balls, took the UAE to 285 for 7; it was close, but not quite the same as 300, and in the end it was not enough.

For one, the UAE could not mirror Ireland’s alertness in the field, nor their discipline with the ball. There were enough freebies on offer, and the openers cashed in, getting the chase off to a good start, putting 64 on the board before they were separated. Even as Sikander Raza (46) and Regis Chakabva (35) moved along, and Hamilton Masakadza failed, Zimbabwe kept the score within touching distance of the required rate.

But, try as the UAE might, the class of Brendan Taylor was unmistakeable. Without breaking a sweat, he helped himself to 47 before a floater from Nasir Aziz straightened like a doosra to beat the sweep and earn the lbw.

Sean Williams (76 not out) and, especially, Craig Ervine (42) powered the chase, getting Zimbabwe across the line with four wickets and 12 balls to spare.

With a few more runs on the board, UAE would have had scoreboard pressure on their side, but, in that absence, victory eluded, although respect had been well and truly earned.

Courtesy: Wisden India