Nelson (New Zealand), Feb 19:
All-rounder Sean Williams (67 not out, 2-43) helped Zimbabwe stave off a strong challenge from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to win their Pool B World Cup game by four wickets at the Saxton Oval here Thursday.
Williams took two crucial wickets even though Shaiman Anwar’s 67 powered UAE to a strong total of 285/7. During the chase, the African outfit was reeling at 144/4 when it lost star batsman Brendon Taylor (47).
But Williams scored an unbeaten innings of 76 in 65 balls to chase down the target with two overs and four wickets to spare.
In pursuit of 286, Zimbabwe got a very good start from openers Sikander Raza (46) and Regis Chakbva (35). But the UAE bowlers hit back by quickly dismissing Raza and Hamilton Masakadza (1).
With the score at 72/2 in 15.1 overs, Taylor joined Chakbva in the middle. But their partnership lasted only for 50 runs as the latter fell trying to hit right-arm spinner Mohammad Tauqir.
Seven overs later, Taylor was trapped infron tof the stumps by another offie Nasir Aziz. This left a major question on Zimbabwe’s chase with the score reading 144/4 in 27.3 overs.
Solomon Mire also gave his wicket to Mohammad Naveed to leave the team reeling at 165/5 in 32.4 overs.
However, the 28-year-old Williams found a perfect partner in Craig Ervine (42). They put up a 83-run partnership for the sixth wicket to not only bail the team out of trouble but also put their country in a commanding position.
They made most of the third Powerplay overs between 35-40 and scored at a very good pace o bring the team into contention.
After Ervine departed, skipper Elton chigumbura (14) nicely supported Williams, who was hitting boundaries at ease. His 19th One-Day International (ODI) fifty ensured that Zimbabwe win their opener against the Cup debutants.
For the UAE, Tauqir picked up 2/51, while Naveed, Amjad Javed, Aziz anbd Krishna Chandran took a wicket apiece.
Earlier, two 82-run partnerships — between Chandran (34) and Khurram Khan (45 for the third wicket and between Anwar and S.P. Patil (32) for the fifth wicket was the reason pushed the UAE to such a highly competitive total.
At the start, opening batsmen Amjad Ali (7) and Adrin Berenger (22) lost their wickets to leave the team in trouble at 40/2.
However, Chandran and Khurram had a healthy partnership to give some stability to the innings. They put up a 82-run partnership for the third wicket before Chandran was dismissed by Mire.
UAE lost another quick wicket in the form of Khurram who was looking strong and settled. He was caught by Williams off a Tendai Chatara delivery to leave the team at 134/4.
Another partnership flourished for the UAE. Anwar joined Patil and they stitched a 82-run stand for the fifth wicket that largely ensured that the UAE cross the 200-run mark.
Anwar’s 50-ball knock was studded with nine fours and a huge six. The 35-year-old scored his second ODI fifty.
Later, Naveed (17-ball 23 not out) and Amjad Javed 19-ball 25 not out) provided late spark to the UAE innings. They forged a 53-run unbeaten partnership for the eighth wicket in only 5.5 overs.
For Zimbabwe, Chatara was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3/42. Mire and Williams chipped in two wickets a piece.
However, a spirited performance by the UAE team was not enough to hand it a victory.
Brief Scores: UAE 285/7 in 50 overs (Shaiman Anwar 67, Khurram Khan 45; Tendai Chatara 3/31, Solomon Mire 2/39), Zimbabwe 286/6 (Sean Williams not out 76, Brendon Taylor 47; Mohammad Tauqir 2/51). Zimbabwe win by four wickets. (IANS)