Raza spins Zimbabwe to victory in T20 World Cup qualifying final

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Sikandar Raza

Sikandar Raza claimed four wickets as Zimbabwe beat the Netherlands by 37 runs in the final of the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup qualifying tournament at Queens Sports Club on Sunday.

The win means Zimbabwe will play Ireland, Scotland and the West Indies in Group B of the preliminary round of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

Netherlands also qualified for the finals set to begin on October 16 and they enter the other first-round group with Namibia, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.

The winners and runners-up in each section advance to the Super 12 phase, joining title-holders Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.

Despite having already qualified for the T20 World Cup in Australia after convincingly winning the first four matches, Zimbabwe, as an ICC full member were desperate to finish the campaign without a defeat.

And by beating Netherlands on Sunday, Zimbabwe completed an unbeaten campaign as they won all five matches, including three in Group A and a semi-final, under new coach Dave Houghton.

The home side, who were cheered on by a big and passionate home crowd however had to be at their best in the final as Netherlands initially threatened to cause an upset in the final.

Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine won the toss and elected to bat first, but the decision backfired after his side was bowled out for a low score of 132 runs in 19.3 overs, their worst batting performance in the tournament.

Logan van Beek was the most impressive of the Netherlands’ bowlers after claiming three wickets for 18 runs in four overs and was well supported by Bas de Leede who claimed two wickets for 19 runs.

In an all-around bowling performance by the Dutch side, all the six bowlers used by their skipper Scott Edwards claimed at least a wicket each.

Zimbabwe struggled to form partnerships as they lost wickets at regular intervals. Sean Williams top scored with 28 runs from 25 balls while Regis Chakabva chipped in with 27 runs from just 16 balls at the top of the batting order.

Only two Zimbabwe batsmen scored more than 20 runs.

After struggling with the bat Zimbabwe needed to turn up with the ball to entertain any hopes of avoiding what would have been a disappointing loss at home.

Off-spinner Wesley Madhevere provided then with the perfect start when he claimed two crucial wickets in the third over by trapping Max O’Dowd LBW for 12 before doing the same to Bas de Leede for just one run.

Stefan Meiberg top scored for the Dutch with a22 runs they struggled to score freely against the Zimbabwe spinners.

Raza, who had been in brilliant form with the bat during the qualifiers, starred with the ball instead, capturing four Dutch wickets for the loss of only eight runs in a four-over spell that included a maiden.

In the end Netherlands were reduced to 95 runs in 18.2 overs as Zimbabwe cruised to an incredible 37-run victory.

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