Zimbabwe, Netherlands seal spots at ICC T20 World Cup finals

Zimbabwe 199/5 (20) beat Papua New Guinea 172/8 (20) by 27 runs

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe sealed their place at the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup finals with a 27-run victory over Papua New Guinea in Bulawayo on Friday.

The Netherlands took the final spot with a seven-wicket victory in the other semi-final of the qualifiers.

Zimbabwe’s decision to have a bat first turned out to be a fruitful one. The experienced duo of Regis Chakabva and skipper Craig Ervine provided a good start, with the former adopting an aggressive approach.

Chakabva struck the first boundary of the match in the very first over, and followed that up with a flurry of fours – three back-to-back off Sema Kamea. An over later, he smacked a six, looking even more dangerous.

However, his blazing innings was ended by Sese Bau, who had him trapped in front for a 19-ball 30. The wicket did not put the brakes on Zimbabwe’s flow of runs though as both Ervine and Wesley Madhevere struck regular boundaries. At the end of the 10th over, Zimbabwe looked strong on 90/1.

However, inside the next five overs, the hosts lost Ervine on 38, while Madhevere fell after top-scoring with a 29-ball 42. The middle-order contributed with valuable runs, helping their side post a strong 199/5 from the allotted 20 overs.

Everything was going Zimbabwe’s way as they picked up a wicket on the very first ball of PNG’s innings with opener Lega Siaka’s dismissal. They lost two more wickets in quick succession as they were reduced to 45/3 in the Powerplay.

With the asking rate going up, Tony Ura started attacking with the bat, smashing two sixes in a row in Sikandar Raza’s over. His partner Charles Amini, too, was looking set for a big innings before falling prey to Luke Jongwe’s outside-off yorker. Ura, however, remained unperturbed as he continued with his business – smashing boundaries at will.

Zimbabwe missed a big opportunity when they had the danger man, Ura, caught when he was on 49 but the delivery was called a no-ball as the bowler Richard Ngarava had overstepped. Ura was eventually dismissed for a 35-ball 66. Thereafter, the bowlers kept the pressure up.

When Ura fell, PNG were 139/5. They ended on 172/8 after 20 overs, falling short by 27 runs. The home crowd went wild as Zimbabwe sealed their place in the marquee event in Australia.

Netherlands saw off a spirited effort from the United States of America to seal a seven-wicket victory in their semi-final after restricting USA to 138 in 19.4 overs.

Zimbabwe and the Netherlands will join defending champions and hosts Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, India, Namibia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates at the finals in October.

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