Williams, Ervine shine as Zimbabwe outclass Nepal in ICC World Cup Qualifier opener
ZIMBABWE kick-started their bid to qualify for the upcoming ICC Men’s World Cup in style by registering a comprehensive eight-wicket win against Nepal in the first match of the qualifying competition at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Captain Craig Ervine was named the Player of the Match after hammering an unbeaten 121 off 128 balls, smashing 15 boundaries and a six en route to his century.
He shared an unbeaten 164-run stand for the third wicket with Sean Williams, who made history by smashing the fastest ODI century by a Zimbabwean.
Williams reached his century in just 70 balls and broke the record of Brendan Taylor who slammed a ton in 79 deliveries.
The pair’s heroics ensured Zimbabwe won by eight wickets with 35 balls to spare as they reached 291 for two in 44.1 overs after Nepal had earlier reached 290 for eight in their allotted 50 overs.
Opting to bowl first, Zimbabwe restricted Nepal to 290 for the loss of eight wickets in 50 overs and then chased down the target in 44.1 overs with eight wickets in hand.
Nepal began its innings on a bright note with openers Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh forging a brilliant 171-run opening stand. Bhurtel was unlucky to miss out on a century as the opener departed for a brilliant 95-ball 99.
Off-spinner Wellington Masakadza dismissed both Bhurtel and Sheikh while fast bowler Richard Ngarava was the hosts’ most successful bowler as he finished with four wickets for 43 runs off his nine overs.
After their bowlers managed to peg Nepal back to below 300 runs Zimbabwe would have backed themselves to a successful chase on a good batting wicket.
Despite losing debutant Joylord Gumbie (25) and Wessly Madhevere (32), they were able to cruise to victory courtesy of Ervine and Williams.
With this win, Zimbabwe will look to book a Super 6 berth when they face Netherlands in their second Group A match at the same venue on Tuesday.
In the other match played on Sunday, West Indies began their campaign on a winning note following a 39-run win against the United States of America (USA) at Takashinga Cricket Club.
The action continues on Monday, with Sri Lanka facing the United Arab Emirates and Ireland taking on Oman in Group B matches in Bulawayo.
Only two of the 10 teams taking part in the three-week qualifier will make the World Cup to be played in India in October and November.
Nepal 290/8 in 50 Overs(Kushal Bhurtel 99, Aasif Sheikh 66, Ngarava 4/43) lost to Zimbabwe 291/2 in 44.1 Overs (Craig Ervine 121 no, Sean Williams 102 no) by eight wickets.
Player of the Match: Craig Ervine