Sikandar Raza dazzles again as Zimbabwe post 31-run win over Ireland

HOBART, Australia – Sikandar Raza played a breathtaking knock of 82 from 48 deliveries and claimed bowling figures of 1/22 to power Zimbabwe to a comprehensive 31-run win over Ireland in their opening match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Monday.

In Zimbabwe’s return to the T20 World Cup since 2016, Raza hogged the limelight with his explosive half-century as he lifted his side from 37 for 3 to an imposing 174/7.

Ireland was never in the hunt in their chase and ended at 143 for 9 with the off-spin all-rounder Raza also grabbing one wicket. He finished with figures of 3-0-22-1.

Put in to bat, Zimbabwe skipper Craig Ervine got out for nine, while his opening partner Regis Chakabva (0) lasted just two balls.

Zimbabwe’s innings looked in disarray after Wesley Madhevere (22) became the third batter to be dismissed inside the powerplay.

But thereafter, it was Raza’s show as he raced to his first World Cup fifty in 26 balls.

He carried the momentum forward before he was bowled off the final ball of Zimbabwe’s innings. He also hit five sixes and five boundaries.

That he contributed 82 runs after facing 48 balls, while the rest of his batting colleagues made 80 from 72 deliveries summed up the impact Raza had on Zimbabwe’s innings.

For Raza, this was his third successive T20I fifty, and fifth overall, this year. He has scored 598 runs from 16 innings this year at an average of 42.71.

“The goal we brought was to get into the Super 12 and take some of the big teams and see where we go. So to have this victory today is certainly humbling, exciting and happy as well,” Raza said.

“But for me, once the team chat is done, I wouldn’t be celebrating this victory. It’s done, it’s in the past.

We have a very tough game against the Caribbean boys in 48 hours’ time and that’s what I’m looking forward to now,” he added.

Zimbabwe are in Group B with the West Indies, Scotland and Ireland. The top two will qualify for the Super 12 stage.

Scotland dished out a perfect all-round display to stun two-time champions West Indies by 42 runs in a rain-interrupted match.

Invited to bat, Scotland put on a challenging 160 for five on the back of opener George Munsey’s sparkling unbeaten 66 off 53 balls, which was studded with nine fours.

The Scots then defended the total in style as West Indies, the most successful side in the T20 World Cup, looked like a shadow of their past and folded for 118 in 18.3 overs.

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