Rising star Wessley Madhevere struck a career-best 73 not out to guide Zimbabwe to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Namibia in the third Twenty20 International match at Queens Sports Club on Saturday.
The result meant Zimbabwe bounced back from a heavy defeat at the hands of the same opponent on Thursday while more crucially it gives them a 2-1 lead in the three-match series.
After Namibia won the toss and elected to bat first, Zimbabwe put on an impressive display with the ball to restrict Namibia to a meagre 128 for eight in their allotted 20 overs.
Veteran fast bowler Tendai Chatara and off-spinner Sikandar Raza took three wickets apiece before Madhevere blasted an unbeaten 61-ball 73 to steer the Chevrons to the target with nearly three overs to spare.
Earlier Chatara had given Zimbabwe the ideal start after removing both openers, Craig Williams bowled for just 3 and Diwan la Cock for 14 to reduce Namibia to 27-2 after 4 overs.
Madhevere also chipped in with the wicket of Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, who top-scored for Namibia with 28 off 23 before Raza had the tourists on the ropes by claiming three wickets for just 16 runs in a spell of four overs.
Chatara returned at the death to remove the dangerous David Wiese as Namibia could only struggle to 128-8 at the break.
Unlike in the recent past when the top order has struggled to give Zimbabwe a solid foundation, the new opening partnership of Madhevere and Innocent Kaia deflated Namibia’s hopes with an opening stand of 61 in 8.5 overs.
Bradley Evans (left) made his T20 international debut for 🇿🇼. He was handed the cap by his father, Craig, a former 🇿🇼 international player. 👏
— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) May 21, 2022
Despite the dismissal of Kaia by Bernhard Scholtaz for 19 and skipper Craig Ervine by Jan Frylink, the result was never in doubt.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Regis Chakabva, who is still trying to work his way back to his best form after an injury scored 24 off 19 balls in an unbroken 48-run stand for the third wicket with Madhevere to guide Zimbabwe to a convincing win with 17 balls to spare.
Zimbabwe have the chance to seal the series win when the two sides meet again on Sunday, while Namibia will hope to set up a decider on Tuesday.