Zimbabwe – 332-7 in 50 overs (Sean Williams 142, Luke Jongwe 43*, Sikandar Raza 42; Fayyaz Butt 4/79, Kaleemullah 1/39, Zeeshan Maqsood 1/63)
Oman – 318-9 in 50 overs (Kashyap Prajapati 103, Ayaan Khan 47, Aqib Ilyas 45; Blessing Muzarabani 3/57, Tendai Chatara 3/73, Richard Ngarava 2/60)
Zimbabwe won by 14 runs
Another brilliant century by Sean Williams was the highlight of Zimbabwe’s victory over Oman at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Thursday, although in the end they won by only 14 runs in an exciting finish to their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier Super Six match.
The hosts were put in to bat on another mild sunny morning.
Joylord Gumbie and Craig Ervine made a steady start, putting on 46 for the first wicket at four runs an over, before both fell in quick succession.
Ervine (21) played a loose drive to be bowled off the inside edge by Kaleemullah, and in the next over Gumbie (25) tried to uppercut a short ball, but only edged it to the wicketkeeper.
Williams and Wessly Madhevere moved the score along at a faster pace and added 64 for the third wicket in less than 10 overs before Madhevere overbalanced while making a big hit against the left-arm spinner Zeeshan Maqsood and was stumped for 23, scored off 26 balls.
Then the old firm of Williams and Sikandar Raza got to work and this time their partnership was worth 102 runs for the fourth wicket in less than 16 overs.
Williams reached another century, and Raza was just moving into top gear when Fayyaz Butt beat him with a yorker and had him out lbw for 42, scored off 49 balls – the score was now 214 for four in the 39th over.
Ryan Burl came and went for a quick 13, but it seemed that nothing could shift Williams, as again he played a magnificent innings.
He was eventually out caught near the long-on boundary as he tried to hit Butt for six, his score being 142 — almost a second 150 score in succession.
He scored the runs off only 103 balls and hit three sixes and 14 fours – Zimbabwe were now 276 for six in the 45th over.
Luke Jongwe was his partner at this stage, and at last he showed his true potential with the bat, playing a fine innings of 43 not out off only 28 balls, staying to the end of the innings.
Wellington Masakadza made six, while Richard Ngarava came in with two overs left and hit 11 not out, with a six and a four, off only four balls faced.
The final score was 332 for seven wickets.
Butt was the most successful Omani bowler, taking four wickets, but at a very heavy cost of 79 runs, while Kaleemullah with one for 39 off his 10 overs was the hardest to score from.
Oman went in and immediately found Kashyap Prajapati in aggressive mode from the start.
His opening partner Jatinder Singh was out lbw, after Zimbabwe’s appeal to the DRS, for two in the fifth over, when the total was already 29.
There followed a superb second-wicket partnership between Prajapati and Aqib Ilyas that often had the Zimbabwe bowlers looking quite helpless.
In less than 17 overs they took the score to 112, a very dangerous partnership that was eventually broken when Ilyas (45 off 61 balls) edged a cut off Raza to the keeper.
The captain, Zeeshan Maqsood, was also in fine hitting form, but when he had 23 he had the rare experience of having to retire hurt batting against a spin bowler.
He quite misjudged a sweep against Madhevere and fell awkwardly – despite treatment he had to retire.
The key man was Prajapati, who continued until he had scored a superb century, but was finally out to a brilliant catch by Raza, who ran back from midwicket at full speed to a lofted hit and managed to hold the ball.
Prajapati had scored 103 off 97 balls, with a six and 12 fours, and the score 190 for three in the 35th over.
With his dismissal many thought the match was as good as over, with almost 10 runs an over needed, but Oman were not beaten yet.
Their batters continued to hit at everything, Mohammad Nadeem in particular, with Fayyaz Butt, adding 26 in two overs before Tendai Chatara trapped Butt lbw at 294 for eight in the 48th over.
Maqsood reappeared in a gallant effort for his team, but he could scarcely run.
After 48 overs the score was 301 for eight – 32 needed off the final two overs.
Valiantly as they tried, they could score only three runs off the penultimate over, bowled by Ngarava.
It was fortunate he was so economical, as otherwise the Zimbabwe pace bowlers did not bowl well under the pressure.
Chatara bowled a nervy final over, with three full tosses and two wides.
Maqsood hit a six and a four, but off the final delivery, aiming for another six, he was well caught by Luke Jongwe at long-off for a courageous 37.
So, Oman finished on 318 for nine, after a tremendous fight right down to the end – Mohammad Nadeem was not out with 30 off 18 balls.
Chatara and Muzarabani took three wickets each, while Ngarava claimed two.
The four spinners were more economical, but only bowled 21 overs among them, with Masakadza given only three overs.