Scotland – 141-6 in 20 overs (Richie Berrington 82*, Matthew Cross 14, Michael Leask 11; Tendai Chatara 2/23, Luke Jongwe 2/28, Richard Ngarava 1/20)
Zimbabwe – 134-9 in 24 overs (Milton Shumba 45*, Sean Williams 28, Craig Ervine 26; Safyaan Sharif 4/24, Mark Watt 1/17, Ollie Hairs 1/19)
Scotland won by seven runs
Milton Shumba’s valiant effort with the bat went in vain as Zimbabwe fell at the hands of Scotland by seven runs in the first of their three Twenty20 international (T20I) matches in Edinburgh on Wednesday.
Although he top-scored for his side with an unbeaten 45, including five fours and a single six, off 30 balls, the 20-year-old batsman could not take the tourists, chasing a target of 142, across the line.
Instead, it was Scotland veteran Richie Berrington’s brilliant 82 not out that ultimately decided the match.
The venue for this series is the Grange Cricket Club ground at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh, and in this the first match the hosts won the toss and decided to bat.
They were soon in trouble, as Wellington Masakadza, bowling the first over, trapped George Munsey lbw for one.
Tendai Chatara followed this up by bowling out Kyle Coetzer, the captain and one of Scotland’s most experience batsmen, for two with his very first delivery, and Scotland found themselves at nine for two wickets.
It then became three wickets in three overs, as Richard Ngarava went on and had Ollie Hairs caught by Craig Ervine for five with only 17 runs on the board.
Berrington was then joined by Calum MacLeod, and they put on 13 together before Chatara bowled MacLeod for six, at 30 for four in the sixth over.
However, Zimbabwe ran into tougher resistance when Berrington settled in, and he was joined by Matthew Cross.
They took the score to 75 in the 13th over before Luke Jongwe had Cross caught by Sean Williams for 14.
In the following over, Berrington brought up his fifty, off 40 balls, with a six off Williams.
Michael Leask played a good supporting role for a while, scoring 11 before he was caught by Masakadza off Jongwe, with the score 111 for six in the 17th over.
Safyaan Sharif then stayed with Berrington until the close of the innings, scoring nine not out.
The final total was 141 for six wickets.
Of that, Berrington scored 82 not out off 61 balls in his magnificent innings, which contained three sixes and seven fours.
Their next highest scorer made only 14.
For Zimbabwe, Chatara and Jongwe took two wickets each, while Masakadza and Ngarava had one apiece.
Zimbabwe almost matched Ireland for a bad start to their innings.
Off the very first ball, Wessly Madhevere edged a ball from Sharif to the wicketkeeper, Cross.
Sharif struck again in his next over, when the other opener, Tadiwanashe Marumani, was caught for three, and Zimbabwe were five for two wickets.
The experienced Regis Chakabva and Craig Ervine now had to repair the damage, which they did by concentrating on scoring singles, while hitting the loose balls for four.
They took the score to 53 in the ninth over when Chakabva was dismissed lbw to Mark Watt for 17.
At 58 Ervine followed him back to the pavilion for 26, caught by Munsey off Hairs, and Zimbabwe now were looking shaky.
Williams was now joined by Shumba, who announced himself by hitting his first ball for four.
They put on 54 together in six overs and eventually Williams was caught off Evans for 28 in the 17th over.
Thirty runs were needed off the last three overs.
Shumba hit Sharif for six, but lost Ryan Burl, bowled for one, and 20 were now needed in two overs.
Chris Sole bowled the next over and dismissed Jongwe for two, which virtually left all Zimbabwe’s hopes resting on the shoulders of Shumba.
Fifteen runs were needed off the final over, delivered by Sharif.
Shumba began with a four, took a bye and then saw Masakadza bowled for one, leaving 10 needed off the final three deliveries, and Chatara to face.
Chatara was run out next ball giving Shumba the strike and the need to score 10 runs off the final two deliveries to win the match for Zimbabwe.
However, he could nothing with the next ball, and scored only a single from the final delivery, leaving the score at 134 for nine and a victory for Scotland by even runs.
Sharif was the star bowler for Scotland with four wickets for 24 runs, but it was Berrington’s outstanding innings that won the match.
Scotland and Zimbabwe will meet in the second T20I game at the same venue on Friday.