T20 WORLD CUP QUALIFICATIONS
[File photo] Sean Williams hit 57 of 39 in his side’s win ©Getty
Zimbabwe survived a scare against Jersey in their second group match at Queens Club to claim a place in the T20 World Cup Global Qualifier B semi-finals, defending 146-8 by 23 points to secure a top-two spot of their group. The USA demolished Singapore to join them at the top of the table. Both teams are just one win away from qualifying for the 2022 T20 World Cup.
Sean Williams’ standout 57 off 39 from number 3 as the wickets fell around him, coupled with some late shots from Luke Jongwe, took the hosts to a retrospectively competitive 146-8, before the home spinners don’t stifle Jersey’s pursuit through the middle. . The visitors eventually fell 23 runs and slipped out of contention despite losing just five wickets. Meanwhile, USA made light work of hapless Singapore, Steven Taylor and Jaskaran Malhotra, encouraged by terrible ground takedowns, hitting a twin 58 as USA racked up 201-6 before rolling Singapore for only 69.
Zimbabwe had appeared to be in trouble early on after being batted as Jersey skipper Chuggy Perchard’s starting bet paid quick rewards. Craig Ervine reached out to lead left-hander Ben Stevens and erred midway through the first innings, before Regis Chakabva swooped in taking Julius Sumerauer’s arm for extra cover. Wessley Madhevere was then trapped in front, looking to sweep a fuller, flatter delivery from Elliot Miles in the sixth to leave the hosts on the ropes at 38 for 3 after the power play.
In the context of the game, Williams’ innings were all the more notable for his quickness, finding the rope seven times with the field spread out and raising his fifty whipping a short, wide delivery from Sumerauer per run on the first ball of the 11th . When he went down trying to sweep Dom Blampied’s first pitch, which drifted more fully under the bat and spun just enough to get off the ground, his 57 runs accounted for the bulk of the 89-run total.
None of Zimbabwe’s upper or middle limbs matched his mastery. Sikandar Raza cleared Ben Ward’s square rope but broke through in his next over, taking a knee but failing in the middle of the slog and seeing Jonty Jenner come out of the midwicket boundary to hold a comfortable hold. It fell to Ryan Burl and Milton Shumba to move Zimbabwe into triple figures in 15th, but at 104-5 with five overs to go, a competitive scoreline seemed out of reach.
An extra rebound from Sumerauer saw Shumba pull on the jumper for Dunford in the 17th, and Burl followed suit in the next, weaving in to Perchard’s deep midwicket. Jersey continued to hold the chances when they came, Mazakadza edged Miles and left in the final, but Luke Jongwe went over the fences twice in his unbeaten 13-ball cameo, adding what would prove a crucial 29 points to fix Jersey a goal of 147 to win.
Defending an average scoreline, Zimbabwe needed to keep a lid on the power play first and foremost, with all the wickets to boot. Tendai Chatara delivered the latter in his second over, clinching Nick Greenwood in the draw and Ervine taking the hold at midwicket. Asa Tribe joined Carlyon and opened their account with back-to-back fours, but Jersey would only find the rope six times in the first six and although 41-1 after the power play was better than what Zimbabwe was successful, the requested rate only increased.
The pitch got slower, and with a hard-to-counter spin and spread field, the target seemed to be moving away and by the time Tribe entered the 10th, the ask rate was already climbing towards the nines. Jersey were just 56-2 halfway through as Jonty Jenner joined Carlyon. Jersey continued to target Burl’s leg rotation at his expense, Jenner dug an extra deep in the 12th and Ben Stevens failed to clear for long in the 14th as Jersey’s challenge failed. The eight overs after the power play cost three wickets with just 29 extra runs.
Carlyon and Ben Ward tried to force their way back into the hunt, but limits were needed and proved difficult to find, with the hundred coming out of a single scramble in the 18th, during which the required time rate had climbed to 20 year.
With 42 needed over the last two overs, the game was pretty much over. Ward hit Jongwe’s last two throughs for four and six through, then square to keep hope alive, but 28 runs on the last became 28 of five with a new face hitter, as Muzarabani took Carlyon off with the first pitch of the 20th. His 45-of-55 innings summed up the pursuit. Ward rushed the strike with four balls to go, but a slower, well-thrown yorker essentially sealed the next game. Ward finished unbeaten on an impressive but ultimately futile 33 from 18 as the hosts closed out a 23-point win.
There was no such tension at BAC, where the United States administered a beating to a lackluster Singapore side, who instead set the tone by dropping Steven Taylor to cover from captain Amjad Mahboob on the fifth ball of the sleeves. Taylor and Monak Patel took advantage of ragged bowling to add 72 runs without a loss in the first six overs.
Patel fell to Akshay Puri in the seventh, however, while looking to clear the opposing court but not getting close enough. Prakash took the low hold as he dived forward off the rope. The combination struck again on its next round as new man Aaron Jones’ attempt to put Puri over the square rope went all the way to Prakash, who took another fine hold. Taylor was joined by Malhotra, with the ruthless Singapore attacking pair. Taylor reached fifty on his 25th ball, guiding Aryaman Sunil behind the back spot on the last ball of the 10th to take the United States to 111-2 at the halfway point.
Taylor was again pardoned at 12th on Krishna’s square boundary, but fell on the next course – getting caught on the rope on point for a 58 from 31 balls.
Malhotra picked up where Taylor left off, losing Gajananad Singh in the 17th when he edged past Mahboob for a nice leg. Malhotra also benefited from a dismal catch from Singapore, pounded again on the square rope by Desai, whom the ball seemed to follow down the field.
A tough three-yard run took Malhotra to an early T20I fifty on the first ball of the 18, to keep the United States on course for over 200. Mahboob picked up some well-deserved wickets in the penultimate, a clean bowling Marty Cain on the first ball and bouncing off Malhotra on the last, but with another chance from deep followed by a huge six in the officials’ crease in between. The Singapore skipper was not celebrating wickets as his side faced an unlikely 202 target.
With Ali Khan sidelined following a bowling arm blow suffered in yesterday’s match, the USA bowling attack wasn’t quite at full strength, but it was more than strong enough to end the hunt early. Surhab Netravalkar essentially broke the chase in his first run, winning a wicket with each of his first two balls. Rangarajan gave him the easiest of return catches and Desai, aiming a wild mowing across the line on a straight ball, on the next. The final ball sealed a three-wicket maiden as Manpreet Singh looked up and straight, but a thick outside edge only reached Malhotra on the rope long.
Chandramohan offered Natravalkar a fourth in his next, looking to go inside cover but getting no power or elevation. In the sequel, Cameron Stevenson held a great low hold in his follow up to knock out Mutreja.
Introduced after the power play, Nisarg Patel became the third bowler to hit in his opening over. Sunil got four balls long in the eighth, and at 36-6 the question was how big of a victory for the Americans would be. Janak Prakash had been the only Singapore batter to look in any control, but Rusty Theron shrewdly read his intentions as he prepared to sweep Patel behind square, only to find Theron had made the ground following comfortably from the deep square to hold the grip.
Sushant Modani’s part-time offspin also found early reward – Baskaran snatched a low return hold from him. Natravalkar came back to wrap up his five-iron, blasting away Singapore skipper with the last ball of his spell Aaron Jones came on to deliver the final blow, pinning last man Puri ahead with the second ball of 16 to close out a mammoth 132 win points.
The margin of victory sees the United States propel Zimbabwe to the top of the standings on net run rate, although the eventual winner of Group A will, barring rain, be decided when the two teams meet on Thursday. Both teams are however assured of a place in the semi-finals, with this afternoon’s Group B matches already potentially deciding their potential opponents, with the Netherlands and Uganda also one win away from a top spot. two guaranteed.