Shumba blasts Zimbabwe to sensational series victory
Scotland – 177-4 in 20 overs (George Munsey 54, Richie Berrington 44, Calum McLeod 39*; Luke Jongwe 2/32, Tendai Chatara 1/31, Richard Ngarava 1/40)
Zimbabwe – 180-4 in 19.1 overs (Milton Shumba 66*, Wessly Madhevere 43, Craig Ervine 25; Michael Leask 2/22, Alasdair Evans 1/39)
Zimbabwe won by six wickets
Zimbabwe’s brilliant young pair of Milton Shumba and Wessly Madhevere turned the final Twenty20 international (T20I) match against Scotland on its head in the final half-hour, snatching a brilliant victory from what had appeared to be certain defeat at Edinburgh on Sunday.
They came together when the tourists had lost their only three experienced batsmen for 63 chasing an imposing target of 178, and needing another 115 runs to win in 10 overs and four balls.
It looked an impossible situation, but the pair played their strokes wisely and so well that soon they were masters of a hitherto dominant bowling attack.
Not long afterwards they were hitting one six after another as the bowling went to pieces.
Unfortunately, Madhevere was run out after a superb 43, but Shumba stayed for a truly great innings of 66 not out until Zimbabwe had, against all earlier expectations, won an amazing victory by six wickets with five balls to spare.
There was rain this morning in Edinburgh, but the match was able to start almost on time, Scotland having won the toss and decided to bat.
Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava opened the bowling to George Munsey and Kyle Coetzer.
Both bowlers hit the spot from the start and the batsmen found nothing loose to help them.
Muzarabani bowled the third over, and Munsey was able to hit fours off his last two deliveries.
Coetzer slogged Ngarava for four, but when he tried to do it again he skyed a catch that was held by Regis Chakabva behind the stumps – he made six and the first wicket fell at 18.
However, Munsey now found his most brilliant form, hitting out at everything, and he hit Luke Jongwe for 22 in his first over, including two sixes and two fours.
He reached a brilliant fifty off 28 balls in the eighth over, as he hit Madhevere for a four and six in succession.
Jongwe bowled again and picked up the wicket of Ollie Hairs for eight, brilliantly caught by Chakabva who ran back to hold a skyer that was falling far behind him; 72 for two in the ninth over.
Four balls later Munsey went quite easily, as he pulled a catch straight to Craig Ervine at backward square leg – he scored 54 off 30 balls and Scotland were 77 for three in the ninth over.
Richie Berrington was dropped twice in one over from Sean Williams, as Zimbabwe failed to press home their advantage.
This allowed a major partnership to develop between Berrington and Calum McLeod, which put on 70 in 10 overs before Berrington in the 19th over was caught on the boundary by Williams for 44 off 39 balls; 147 for four.
As a final blow to Zimbabwe, Ngarava, having bowled so well earlier and throughout the series, had a tough final over, giving away 30 runs, including three sixes and two no-balls.
This enabled Scotland to total 177 for four wickets, McLeod with 39 off 29 balls and Michael Leask 17 off five balls being the not-out batsmen.
Jongwe took two wickets for 32 runs, but Zimbabwe’s most economical bowler, Williams, was only given two overs, off which he conceded eight runs.
When Zimbabwe began their reply, Ervine went in first himself with Chakabva, and the two made a good brisk start, with Chakabva pulling a ball from Chris Sole over the square-leg boundary for six.
They handled the situation very well, bringing up the fifty in the seventh over without loss.
At 60 in the eighth over Chakabva (25) was bowled by a ball from Leask that skidded straight through as he tried to hit it across the line.
Two balls later Ervine also fell, bowled by Alasdair Evans for 25, and Zimbabwe were 60 for two.
Williams scored only a single before he tried a reverse sweep and was bowled by Leask.
Madhevere and Shumba settled in and batted well, but Zimbabwe fell increasingly behind the required run rate.
The team 100 came up in the 14th over, but the required run rate was well over 10 now.
Zimbabwe got new hope when Evans came on to bowl his final over, as Shumba hit his first three balls for six, two pulls and one drive over long-on.
After a single, Madhevere hit the next ball, a low full toss, over midwicket for six, and 25 runs came off the over.
Zimbabwe now needed 31 runs off the final three overs.
A single by Shumba brought him his first T20I fifty off only 22 balls.
Safyaan Sharif, Scotland’s star death bowler, now came on to bowl two of the final three overs.
But his first of these was not up his usual immaculate standard, and low full tosses were hit by Madhevere for four and Shumba for six.
Seventeen were needed off the final two overs, with Sole to bowl next.
Off the first ball the batsmen went for a risky two, only for Madhevere to be run out for 43, scored off 34 balls.
The pair had put on 99 for the fourth wicket in nine overs.
Ryan Burl helped Shumba to keep the bowling, and the batsmen hit two more boundaries, making 15 runs off the over, and Zimbabwe needing just two runs for victory.
It took only one delivery for Burl to hit another full toss to the boundary for four to win the match with five balls to spare.
The brilliant Shumba finished with 66 not out off only 29 balls – he hit six sixes and two fours in the bowling his match-winning innings.
The onslaught of Shumba and Madhevere completely shattered the Scottish bowling attack, which virtually went to pieces.
Zimbabwe therefore won the three-match series by two victories to one.
It will indeed be remembered as one of the nation’s finest victories, achieved as it was by two outstanding young batsmen whose average age works out at not quite 21, beacons of light for Zimbabwe’s cricketing future.