Zimbabwe continued their winning streak in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 qualifiers match at Bulawayo on Thursday beating Oman side by 14 runs. Zimbabwe won the match thanks to Sean Williams’ batting and outstanding bowling performances by Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara. The victory brought Zimbabwe to the top of the Super Six table with six points and marked their seventh consecutive ODI win.
Zimbabwe began their innings with a tricky start. The returning skipper, Craig Ervine, and Joylord Gumbie faced a relentless attack from the Oman pacers, narrowly surviving numerous close calls and a dismissed appeal overturned by DRS intervention. Despite the initial tumult, they provided a steady beginning for the host team.
Zimbabwe faced an early setback as both openers fell in the 12th and 13th overs, with Ervine scoring 25 and Gumbie 21. This brought the score to a precarious 48/2 in 13 overs. However, Sean Williams and Wessly Madhevere quickly turned the tables, pushing Zimbabwe past 100 in the 21st over. Williams continued his excellent form, reaching his half-century in the 25th over – his fourth fifty of the tournament.
As Williams dominated the field, Sikandar Raza reached a personal milestone – 4000 ODI runs for Zimbabwe. The pair’s efforts propelled Zimbabwe to 200 runs by the 35th over. Williams went on to score a century in the 38th over, his third ton of the tournament. Despite losing Raza (42) in the 39th over, Zimbabwe’s innings ended on a high note with Williams’ remarkable 142 and Luke Jongwe’s fiery 43*, setting a mammoth target of 333 for Oman.
Oman began their chase positively, with opener Jatinder Singh falling early to Muzarabani. The partnership of Kashyap Prajapati and Aqib Ilyas was crucial, adding 50 runs between overs 11-20. However, the Zimbabwean bowling attack, led by Sikandar Raza, kept the pressure on, leading to Ilyas’s dismissal in the 22nd over.
Oman faced further challenges when skipper Zeeshan Maqsood had to retire due to injury. Still, Prajapati stood firm, scoring a historic century – the first by an Omani against a full-member nation. Despite the setback of Prajapati’s dismissal at 103, Oman fought on, reaching 263/6 in 44.4 overs.
However, in the final stages of the game, the precision of Zimbabwe’s bowling proved decisive. With a spectacular catch by Jongwe and the fall of three crucial wickets, Zimbabwe tightened their hold over the match. Oman ended their innings at 318/9, falling 14 runs short of the target.
Zimbabwe’s successful campaign so far in the World Cup qualifiers marks their pursuit of a return to the World Cup, having last featured in 2015. Despite their fighting effort, Oman’s journey to qualify for India 2023 seems steep, needing to win all their remaining matches and rely on other results to turn in their favor. The performance by both teams promises a thrilling finish to the qualifier round.