Ervine guides Zimbabwe to narrow win over Namibia

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Craig Ervine played a captain's knock to guide Zimbabwe to a hard-fought win against Namibia at Queens Sports Club on Tuesday

Captain Craig Ervine led from the front with an inspirational half-century before spinner Milton Shumba claimed three wickets to stifle Namibia’s run chase as Zimbabwe secured a seven-run victory in the opening match of the five-match T20 International series at Queens Sports Club on Tuesday.

In a gripping first-ever T2o encounter between the two sides, Zimbabwe reached 153 for four in their allotted 20 overs, thanks mainly to Ervine’s 55 off 39 balls before their bowlers put on a good show to restrict Namibia to 146 for five wickets.

Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bat before getting off to a steady start as Regis Chakabva and Wessley Madhevere shared an opening stand of 34 runs off only four overs.

Namibian left-arm spinner Bernard Scholtz got the breakthrough, dismissing Madhevere for 23, as he skied a catch to Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus in the covers, and then two overs later bowled Chakabva for 15 with a brilliant ball that turned sharply.

At 44 for two wickets Zimbabwe were in a tight spot, but Ervine and Sikandar Raza revived their innings with a fine partnership as they steadily raised the run rate.

Ervine and Raza put on 71 runs for the third wicket to lift Zimbabwe to 114 for 2 after 15 overs.

Just when it seemed the momentum was in the hosts’ favour Raza has trapped lbw by Gerhard Erasmus for 37 off 30 balls before Shumba, who has been in brilliant form with the bat was caught for four.

Ervine however ensured Zimbabwe finished strongly and brought up his fifth T20I half-century off 38 balls with a six in the final over of the innings.

In reply, Namibia got off to a solid start with Davin La Cock and Craig Williams putting on 67 runs off 9,1 overs for the first wicket.

Leg spinner provided the breakthrough after having Williams caught in the covers for 25 off 34 balls before Shumba struck the next over by dismissing Erasmus for three runs.

Despite losing the two quick wickets Namibia were still well set at 73 for two with nine overs in hand but Shumba swayed the match in Zimbabwe’s favour when he had Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton stumped four overs later.

Shumba, who is fast turning into a consistent wicket-taking spinner for Zimbabwe got the prized wicket of La Cock, caught in the covers for 66 off 43 balls.

La Cock’s innings featured three fours and five big sixes and his dismissal got Zimbabwe right back in the match, with Namibia at 119 for four and three overs remaining.

Zane Green and David Wiese tried to reach the target but the momentum had shifted Zimbabwe’s way and after Green was dismissed for 19 with the duo of Luke Jongwe and Tendai Chatara bowling superbly at the end.

The dangerous Wiese was restricted to 14 not out as Namibia reached 146 for five, still seven runs short of the target.

Shumba was Zimbabwe’s stand-out bowler, taking three wickets for 16 runs, while Tendai Chatara and Brandon Mavuta took a wicket apiece.

The second T20 match is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the same venue.

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