Twenty20 Matches

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New Zealand Cruise to Ten-Wicket Win

New Zealand easily won the first Twenty20 match against Zimbabwe, racing to a 10-wicket victory with 6.4 overs in hand at Harare Sports Club. Zimbabwe fell short of their visitors in all three departments, but the most visible was the catching. Although it did not make the difference between victory and defeat, the fielders dropped both New Zealand openers before they had reached 30, and should have avoided the humiliation of a margin of defeat as great as ten wickets.

Zimbabwe were without Tatenda Taibu, still not fully recovered from the injury he sustained during the Pakistan tour, and Vusi Sibanda, whose mother had passed away in the morning. New Zealand won the toss and put them in to bat, with the weather beautiful and the pitch slightly green and rather slow; the crowd was to grow to perhaps two or three thousand. Hamilton Masakadza drove a ball from the debutant Doug Bracewell for six over long-off in the second over, but this flattered only to deceive; in the next over he tried to do the same thing to Kyle Mills, but got a leading edge and was caught off a skier to mid-off for 9.

The rest of the innings was Brendan Taylor, accompanied by a series of batsmen who made starts but were unable to convert them to anything substantial; the next best innings was 16 by Forster Mutizwa. After ten overs the score was 57 for three; the 100 only came up in the 17th over. Taylor reached his fifty in the final over, off 46 balls; this is hardly a match-winning scoring rate in Twenty20 cricket, but he was in a difficult situation and had to hold the innings together in the absence of a durable partner at the other end. Mills and the off-spinner Nathan McCullum took two wickets each; overall the New Zealanders bowled well, with skilful variations, and gave nothing away in the field. Zimbabwe ’s 121 for eight was scarcely a defendable total.

Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill made light work of the target, helped by a few dropped catches. They played the first over or so fairly quietly before going on the attack with a vengeance. McCullum hit a big six over long-off off Kyle Jarvis in the third over, but when he had 24 he skied a catch to midwicket, where it was put down by Taylor . Guptill, for his part, was dropped at long-on by Waller when he had 22, so Zimbabwe should have had both the openers out. McCullum ran to his 50 off 36 balls, and continued the assault. They romped home with almost seven overs to spare, with only Raymond Price and Prosper Utseya (the latter had only two overs) of the bowlers escaping brutal treatment. Zimbabwe ’s ground fielding was generally good, but the seam bowling was not at par with the work rate on the field and variations were often picked up easily by the batsmen.

"We came here to win, and the way we started with the ball was pleasing, but we know Zimbabwe will come hard at us. When you have been out of cricket for so long, the way we backed up the bowlers in the field was excellent. Brendon and Martin were outstanding with the bat," said the Black Caps' skipper, Ross Taylor. The Black caps had last played international cricket five months ago at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and the victory is the first for the Taylor on his maiden tour as team captain. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 123/8 (20 overs; Taylor 50*, Mills 2/15), New Zealand 127/0 (13.3 overs; McCullum 81*, Guptill 40*). New Zealand win by 10 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Pakistan Seal Tour Whitewash With Narrow Win in 2nd T20

Zimbabwe had a wonderful chance of breaking Pakistan’s winning run by gaining a victory in the final match of the tour. Good bowling and some superb fielding saw them unexpectedly restrict Pakistan to 141 runs in their 20 overs, but their batsmen choked at the target, managing only 136, despite a final gallant effort by Tatenda Taibu, who finished unbeaten on 37. Their bogey man was once again Mohammad Hafeez, a man who seems to strike terror into Zimbabwean players' hearts, as shown by his 51 runs and three wickets in this match.

On another warm sunny day Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat, after their success going in first in their previous match. The pitch was ideal, good for batting but with some life and bounce for the bowlers. The start was not auspicious for the home side. The first ball of the innings was misfielded by Brendan Taylor in the covers, a single resulting, and ten runs came off that rather poor over from Prosper Utseya, a surprise choice to open the bowling.

After that, however, it was Zimbabwe almost all the way throughout the innings. Pakistan hit the ball in the air, only to find the Zimbabwe fielding vastly improved on their previous matches. The catches were taken and three batsmen were out for 34 in the sixth over. However, Hafeez was still there, and despite lack of support at the other end he ran to another 50 off 37 balls. He then skied a ball from Price to long-on and departed for 51. Umar Akmal, who had been his best partner, ran himself out for 28, and the innings eventually closed at 141 for seven. Kyle Jarvis had been the best of the bowlers, with a remarkable three for 14 in his four overs. Zimbabwe now found themselves in with a good chance of victory.

Vusi Sibanda drove the first ball of the Zimbabwe reply straight back down the ground for four. He and Chamu Chibhabha proceeded to play with a confidence that suggested that Zimbabwe believed in themselves and were on course for victory. After four overs the score was 28 without loss, but then both were dismissed in quick succession and the wheels came off with a vengeance. Cephas Zhuwao looked out of his depth; the experienced Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor lost their wickets to soft shots, and Zimbabwe were 72 for six after 13 overs. The team seems to have a deep-set fear of Hafeez, whether he is batting or bowling, as he took three of the wickets.

With Tatenda Taibu and Elton Chigumbura together, Zimbabwe still had a chance, though 53 were still needed off the last five overs with four wickets left. Taibu did not look at ease at first, but Chigumbura played enough good shots to give hope to his team, until he holed out at long-on for 24. Utseya faced five balls without scoring, leaving 29 needed off the final two overs, and 20 off the last. Taibu made a gallant effort and managed to get it down to six needed off the final ball – only for the bowler to put a yorker outside the off stump that Taibu left in expectation of it being called a wide. It was adjudged just legal, justifiably, but it was a disappointing anticlimax and Zimbabwe had lost again. Full scorecard below the cut.
Pakistan 141/7 (20 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 51, Jarvis 3/15), Zimbabwe 136/7 (20 overs; Taibu 37*, Mohammad Hafeez 3/11). Pakistan win by 5 runs.

Pakistan Cruise to 1st T20 Win

Zimbabwe put Pakistan in to bat, the usual policy, and it did at least treat a comparatively small crowd of a few hundred to a brilliant display of hitting by the visiting batsmen. All the bowlers suffered, most of all Chris Mpofu, whose four overs went for 59 runs.

The first wicket fell in the seventh over, when Asad Shafiq slipped and was run out – but by then the total was already 74. Mohammad Hafeez once again was Zimbabwe's main destroyer, making 71 off 48 balls (6 fours, 3 sixes) before being caught on the midwicket boundary, a stroke Pakistan probably thought was safe after three difficult chances had gone down in the deep. Zimbabwe's fielding was again found wanting.

Pakistan looked on course for a score of 200, but Zimbabwe did slow the rate with two more wickets. Sohail Tanvir came in to score 17 off five balls in the final over, from Mpofu, and the final total was 198 for four wickets. The Zimbabwe bowlers and fielders were shaken by such superb batting; Chamu Chibhabha, with one wicket for 17 runs off three overs, did as well as anybody and would probably have been a better choice than Mpofu for the final over.

Zimbabwe from the start had a mammoth task and had no alternative but to slog and the the scoreboard ticking. The Pakistanis knew where and how to bowl, and they did so skilfully, helped by some brilliant catching in the outfield. Their troubles began in the second over when, as a sign of things to come, Vusi Sibanda miscued a drive and Misbah-ul-Haq raced back from mid-off to take the first of several excellent catches by his team.

Chibhabha batted well for a while to make 26 off 28 balls, but it was Charles Coventry, restored to the team for this format of the game, who alone caused the bowlers some consternation. He hammered 30 off 13 balls, including four fours and a six, before inevitably skying a catch in the end, like so many of his team-mates, who had no alternative.

When Taibu was run out by a poor call from Price, it was only a matter of time, and in the end Zimbabwe subsided for 113, with almost five overs in hand. Almost inevitably, Hafeez was in the forefront of the bowling, and he took four wickets for 10 runs – and was again named Player of the Match. Full scorecard below the cut.
Pakistan 198/4 (20 overs; Mohammad Hafeez 71, Chibhabha 1/17), Zimbabwe 113 (15.2 overs; Coventry 30, Mohammad Hafeez 4/10). Pakistan win by 85 runs.

Zimbabwe Run South Africa Close in 2nd Twenty20 International

A daring batting performance was insufficient to stop South Africa from clinching an eight run win against Zimbabwe in the second high scoring Standard Bank International Pro20 match played at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley. Jean-Paul Duminy (97*) and Graeme Smith (46) gave the visiting Zimbabweans a stern assignment chasing a massive target of 194 runs after winning the toss and electing to bat. This was one of the highest targets the tourists have had to chase in international Twenty20 cricket.

Duminy set a new record for the highest score by a South African batsman, the previous record was held by Loots Bosman when he scored 94 against England at Centurion last season. He remained unbeaten scoring his last 46 runs from just 17 balls.

Zimbabwe’s slow bowlers prevented Smith from launching another brutal attack as Graeme Cremer took an easy catch at deep mid-on off the bowling of Brendan Taylor. Right off spinner Prosper Utseya had already given the visitors a decent start after claiming the two early wickets of Loots Bosman (5) and Colin Ingram (12) but still Duminy was the wicket Zimbabwe needed.

Zimbabwe set a new team record of its highest total in international Twenty20 cricket after scoring 186 for seven. The previous record was set just two days ago with a total of 168 for four in the first T20 against South Africa. A 107 run second wicket partnership between right-handers Brendan Taylor and Chamu Chibhabha breathed life into the Zimbabwean pursuit. Chibhabha scored his second fifty in the series, his score of 58 from 41 balls comprised of six boundaries and two sixes.

Zimbabwe were still faced with the colossal task of wanting 49 runs from the final 24 balls after Brendan Taylor was caught for 59 off 39 balls. Pressure continued to mount of the visitors who now required two runs a ball to clinch victory. Charles Coventry (8) and Keith Dabengwa (1) succumbed to increasing demand for boundaries, both losing their wickets in the desperate pursuit of quick runs.

Visiting captain Elton Chigumbura had no option but go for every big shot he could and rightfully he did so knocking 26 from 15 before being run-out attempting for two runs. Shingirai Masakadza was sent back to the pavilion by a brilliant delivery from Rusty Theron which uprooted middle and off stump, Zimbabwe needed 15 from 5 balls. Theron remained clinical in the final over, bowling a fuller length which restricted Tatenda Taibu and Graeme Cremer to singles and extras and leaving Zimbabwe just short of the target at the end of their innings.

Full scorecard below the cut. Zimbabwe at least have avoided humiliation in the Twenty20 matches and have positives to take into the ODI series.
[Match report via ZC]
South Africa 194/6 (20 overs; Duminy 96*, Utseya 2/28), Zimbabwe 186/7 (20 overs; Taylor 59, Chibhabha 59, Theron 2/27). South Africa win by 8 runs.

Smith Leads South Africa To Victory

An impressive batting display by Zimbabwe was undone by a weak bowling performance as they lost the first of two Twenty20 International against South Africa by seven wickets with 25 balls to spare in Bloemfontein in Friday.

Two well struck half centuries from Hamilton Masakadza and Chamunorwa Chibhabha led Zimbabwe to a competitive score of 168-4 but an opening stand of 90 in just seven overs between Proteas openers Graeme Smith and Loots Bosman effectively ended the contest.

“All credit to the Zimbabwean batsmen tonight, Chamu Chibhabha took the attack to our bowlers and it really paid off for him. Hamilton was not as fluent but after a run a ball fifty, he caught up well at the end. All credit to both of them for the way they batted,” said South African Captain, Johan Botha.

Chamu Chibhabha’s hard-line approach to the Proteas attack powered him to a quick half century off just 29 balls. This makes him the new record holder for the fastest fifty by a Zimbabwean batsman in twenty20 cricket, a record previously held by Hamilton Masakadza. Chibhabha came in at number three after opener Brendan Taylor was dismissed for a duck when Wayne Parnell trapped him leg before wicket by an in swinger destined to hit middle and leg.

Rusty Theron quickly got rid of Zimbabwe’s big hitting captain, Elton Chigumbura for 10 runs after he attempted to slog across the line.

Masakadza struggled to score from the tidy bowling of Parnell and Morne Morkel who both bowled short of a length and straight at the batsman. He picked up the tempo when he partnered Chibhabha for their second wicket 72 run partnership. Masakadza put away everything short to the boundary occasionally playing across the line to free his arms before being run-out for 72 from 63 balls including six fours and two sixes.

The first four overs of Zimbabwe’s bowling were disappointing, however. South Africa’s Graeme Smith launched a brutal onslaught at the Zimbabwean openers, lashing out at everything short or too full.

Masakadza was introduced into the attack after just five overs in a desperate bid to stem the flow of runs but his first three deliveries were all smashed to the boundary. Smith jotted himself in the South African record books for the second fastest Twenty20 fifty which came from 26 balls featuring eight boundaries and two sixes.

Bosman was the first South African wicket to fall for 33 runs attempting to clear Brendan Taylor at long-off off the bowling of Prosper Utseya. Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer brought a little more relief to the struggling Zimbabwean bowlers by trapping Smith leg before wicket for 58.

However this was not sufficient to stop the Proteas from marching to victory with an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 70 which ended in the 16th over. Full scorecard below the cut.
[Match report via ZC]
Zimbabwe 168/4 (20 overs; Masakadza 72, Parnell 2/29), South Africa 169/3 (15.5 overs; Smith 58, Utseya 2/41). South Africa win by 7 wickets.

Grant Flower Named in Zim Squads for SA Tour

Incoming Zim batting coach Grant Flower has made an unexpected return to international cricket after having been named in both the ODI and Twenty20 squads for Zimbabwe's tour to South Africa in October. His place comes at the expense of Brendan Taylor, who has been dropped despite being Zimbabwe's top-scorer in ODIs this year. Speaking on his selection, Flower accepted there may be a conflict of interest between his role as coach and selection as player:

"There can be a conflict of interests with my role as the batting coach if I can't turn things around as a player. It can be awkward if I don't. If it works, however, it can come out in positive fashion."

Taylor's omission seems a tad strange, though, given his good recent form - there are players in the Zim squad who are struggling for form who you would expect would be first in line for the chop. Let the speculation begin. Also notable for their absence are Ray Price and Greg Lamb. Here are the squads:

Twenty20 squad: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Hamilton Masakadza, Chamu Chibhabha, Tatenda Taibu (wicketkeeper), Shingirai Masakadza, Ian Nicolson, Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer, Charles Coventry, Ed Rainsford, Chris Mpofu, Keith Dabengwa, Grant Flower.

ODI squad: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Hamilton Masakadza, Chamu Chibhabha, Tatenda Taibu (wicketkeeper), Shingirai Masakadza, Ian Nicolson, Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer, Ed Rainsford, Chris Mpofu, Keith Dabengwa, Grant Flower, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine

UPDATE: Since this article was originally posted, Taylor's name has been added to both squads.

Itinerary Released for Zim Tour to South Africa

Zimbabwe will visit South Africa in October for three ODIs and two Twenty20 matches. Here's the schedule:

8 October 2010          1st T20 International           OUTsurance Oval, Bloemfontein 
10 October 2010         2nd T20 International           De Beers Diamond Oval, Kimberley 
15 October 2010         1st ODI                         OUTsurance Oval, Bloemfontein 
17 October 2010         2nd ODI                         Senwes Park, Potchefstroom 
22 October 2010         3rd ODI                         Willowmoore Park, Benoni

India Complete T20 Double Against Zimbabwe

India, excelling at their own form of the game, won their second match out of two in the international Twenty20 series at Harare Sports Club, beating Zimbabwe by seven wickets. Zimbabwe was handicapped by a slow start to their innings, but made a good recovery, only to find the Indian batsmen easily equal to overtaking their total. Again India won the toss, and again put Zimbabwe in to bat. Zimbabwe had made three changes, including a debut for the 19-year-old seam bowler Tendai Chatara, but their attitude had also changed. Gone was the reckless hitting of the top order on Friday; in came a caution and even a timidity which was evident from the moment Hamilton Masakadza allowed five balls, plus a wide, to pass his off stump in the opening over – although umpire Russell Tiffin was perhaps also a little too tolerant of the bowler’s width. Zimbabwe at present have no idea how to bat when required to do so first; at any rate, the score after four overs was only 10 for one.

The Indian bowlers had worked out their tactics well against the Zimbabwean batsmen, and seemed to have the match wrapped up when the score was only 47 for two after ten overs. Soon afterwards Brendan Taylor, the only early batsman to look competent, was brilliantly caught on the boundary for 27, but then Charles Coventry, omitted from the first match, began to turn the tide. He hammered 28 off only 13 balls, including three fours and two sixes, before being bowled by a superb yorker from Ashok Dinda. Elton Chigumbura did his bit with 18 off only six balls, out to another brilliant catch in the deep, and, with Tatenda Taibu still there at the end with 45 off 40 balls, the final total was 140 for five wickets. Dinda, with two for 15, returned the best figures. It was much better than on Thursday, much better than had looked likely after the painful start, but probably still not enough to win the match.

Chatara, opening the bowling opposite Chris Mpofu, made a good start to his international career, with only a single scored off an impressive opening over; he was to finish with the best economy rate of all Zimbabwe’s bowlers. Mpofu was more expensive, though, and India ’s opening partnership ran up 32 runs in five overs before Naman Ojha was caught by Chatara near the midwicket boundary off Price. Murali Vijay was in fine form, though, and showed a liking for hitting sixes – three of them, against two fours - while Suresh Raina was his usual aggressive self. The 100 came up in the 14th over, until Vijay (46) holed out in the deep. But with 30 more needed to win off 33 balls, the match was then as good as over. Zimbabwe had a consolation wicket as Yusuf Pathan skied a catch attempting the winning hit, but were beaten with two overs to spare. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 140/5 (20 overs; Taibu 45*, Dinda 2/15), India 144/3 (18 overs; Vijay 46, Chibhabha 1/19). India win by 7 wickets.
[Source: ZC]

Zimbabwe Lose 1st T20 by Six Wickets

It was difficult to predict a likely result for this match, as Zimbabwe had twice beaten India during the triangular tournament, but the visitors had played in the IPL Twenty20 league and so could claim greater experience in this form of the game. In the event, Zimbabwe indeed showed their lack of experience, allowing India to stroll to victory by six wickets with more than five overs to spare.

With a one o’clock start, the toss was not as important to the result of the match as it had been in the longer format, but the team sent in to bat were still destined to lose the match. It was their own fault, however, as Zimbabwe committed the cricketing equivalent of burning their candle at both ends. After losing Hamilton Masakadza in the first over, Brendan Taylor and Chamu Chibhabha launched a blazing assault on the Indian seam bowlers. Boundaries flowed, with both hitting a six in Vinay Kumar’s second over, but it couldn’t last, as the bowler dismissed Taylor lbw with his final delivery. This made the score 30 for two off three overs. Runs continued to flow, but it was a dangerous game, especially when the spinners came on to bowl.

The real turning point came when Chibhabha was beaten and trapped lbw by a googly from Piyush Chawla for 40 off 30 balls (five fours and a six; 73 for four). From then on, it was India all the way. Craig Ervine became bogged down, although he eventually made 30 (44 balls), but Elton Chigumbura holed out in the deep for three, making five down for 80 in the 14th over. The lower order never looked like firing, and when the seamers returned they bowled out three batsmen, including Ervine, with yorkers. Pragyan Ojha, with two for 11 in his four overs, set a new economy record for India in Twenty20 matches, while Vinay Kumar took three wickets for 24. The total was an inadequate 111 for nine wickets.

India would have had to play very badly to fail in this run chase, but Zimbabwe did not let them have it all their own way. Chris Mpofu conceded seven runs in his first over, but he finished it with the wicket of Murali Vijay, who clipped a catch to midwicket. In his next over Mpofu removed Naman Ojha, and India were suddenly 12 for two. Suresh Raina did not take this lying down, and he counter-attacked, playing some fine strokes in his 28 (17 balls) before swinging a ball from Raymond Price to midwicket; 47 for three in the eighth over. A single later Tatenda Taibu superbly stumped Rohit Sharma for 4, both wickets falling to Raymond Price. But Zimbabwe were unable to sustain the pressure, and the Indian batsmen hit the loose balls well. Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan finished the job with some powerful but astute hitting. They finished with 24 and 35 respectively, at better than a run a ball. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 111/9 (20 overs; Chibhabha 40, Kumar 3/24), India 112/4 (15 overs; Pathan 37*, Price 2/24). India win by 6 wickets.
[Source: ZC]

Zim High Performance Come Close to Upsetting India

It was an eagerly-awaited warm-up game for the visitors, one which would have given them a chance to forget failure and embrace success on their (so far) forgettable tour to Zimbabwe. But, after stuttering to a narrow 6-run win against the Zimbabwe High Performance Centre (HPC), more headache is all that the Indian team management got ahead of their two T20 international games against Zimbabwe this weekend. Big-hitter Yusuf Pathan managed just six runs, vice-captain Virat Kohli didn’t even bother the two lady scorers and bowlers like Ashok Dinda and Pragyan Ojha went wicketless. Not an ideal preparation indeed before the two-eagerly awaited T20 matches.

HPC won the toss, and captain Vusimuzi Sibanda sent the visitors to bat. The home side's nineteen year old seamer, Tendai Chatara celebrated his first wicket against India removing opening batsman Naman Ohja in the fourth over as he tried to play straight down the ground, giving an easy catch to mid-on. Only Murali Vijay and Captain Suresh Raina put up decent scores of 41 and 31 respectively. Dinesh Karthik (20 off 17balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (15 not out) were the only other batsmen to reach double figures. Chatara was the mainstay for Zimbabwe in restricting the more experienced visitors to a total of 145 runs. The Mountaineers opener claimed three wickets for 22 runs off his four overs.

In reply, Stuart Matsikenyeri’s brilliant knock of 55 from 39 balls kept India at bay despite early losses of Vusimuzi Sibanda (17 off 23 balls), Keith Dabengwa (0) and Razza Butt (1). Matsikenyeri’s innings was a brisk 39 minute knock featuring four sixes and two fours. Partnered by Prince Masvaure who scored 41 off 37 balls, the pair grabbed the bull by its horns setting the second highest partnership of 48. The middle order, though, succumbed to the experienced bowling of the Indians and fell at a disappointing rate. Pace bowling was the weapon of choice today, with right arm pacer Vinay Kumar the top wicket taker for India, claiming three for 28. Abhimanyu Mithun however took the responsibility of removing the opening pair in the first over, before bowling three more overs for 14 runs.

"We have been working very hard for the past five days and the warm-up game gave us great practise. It helped us identify the areas we need to work on before we play Zimbabwe on Saturday," said Mithun after the match, but India certainly have a lot to work to do before facing Zimbabwe in the first T20 match on Saturday.
India 145 (Vijay 41, Chitara 3/22), Zimbabwe HPC 139 (Matsikenyeri 55, Kumar 3/28). India win by 6 runs.
[Source: ZC]

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