Zimbabwe survive PNG scare to qualify for ICC T20 World Cup

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Fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani put on a good performance with the ball to inspire Zimbabwe to a victory against Papua New Guinea

Zimbabwe have qualified for their first ICC T20 World Cup since 2016 after a valiant 26-run victory over Papua New Guinea in an entertaining semi-final at Queens Sports Club on Friday.

The home side put on a solid batting solid team batting performance reaching 199 runs for five in 20 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat first.

The Craig Ervine-captained side however made heavy weather of defending the challenging score as hard-hitting PNG batsman Tony Ura threatened to almost single-handedly dash Zimbabwe’s World Cup hopes with a quick-fire 66 from 35 balls.

The only other resistance was from Charles Amini (31) and in the end, PNG were restricted to 178 for eight in their allotted 20 overs as Zimbabwe secured their ticket to the T20 World Cup to be played in Australia in October.

For the first time in the qualifiers, all the Zimbabwe batters managed to reach double digits with Wessley Madhevere top scoring with 42 runs from 29 balls as the hosts narrowly missed out on reaching 200.

Captain Craig Ervine (38) and Regis Chakabva (30) set the tone for a big total with a 38 – run opening stand while Milton Shumba coming on at number six contributed 29.

Senior allrounders Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza both scored 22 runs, making valuable contributions to the total score.

But it was seamers Richard Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani who managed to salvage the match for the hosts as they remained frugal against PNG batters, who had dominated Zimbabwe’s spinners despite losing early wickets.

Muzarabani was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers grabbing two wickets for 24 runs in four overs while Ngarava was the most economic bowler taking one wicket for 22.

Madhevere claimed one wicket for 12 runs with his off-spin while the trio of Luke Jongwe, Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza also grabbed a wicket each.

Zimbabwe will now play Netherlands in the final of the qualifying competition at Queens Sports Club on Sunday with both teams having already qualified for the T20 World Cup.

Netherlands beat USA by seven wickets in the other semi-final match played at Bulawayo Athletic Club on Friday.

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