By Liam Brickhill
Zimbabwe all but crashed out of the running for a spot at the 2019 World Cup with a narrow three-run defeat to United Arab Emirates in their final Super Six match at the Harare Sports Club. Chasing 230 in 40 overs in a rain-affected match, Zimbabwe went into the last over needing 15, but managed only 11. Their chase had been powered by Sean Williams‘ 80, but his dismissal in the 37th over left the lower order with too much to do, and UAE held their nerve to record their first victory over a Test nation.
Needing to score at 5.75 from the outset, with only 40 overs and the potential of further rain delays, this was a situation in which Zimbabwe might have welcomed Cephas Zhuwao’s big hitting up front. But without him in the XI, Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire opened the batting.
With the ball skidding on a little quicker on a surface juiced up by the shower, Mohammad Naveed’s pace soon proved too much for Mire. Late on a pull, he spliced an easy catch to Shaiman Anwar at midwicket. Working up serious pace, Naveed then sent Masakadza’s off stump cartwheeling with a delivery clocked at 140kph. Those wickets put a dent in Zimbabwe, but it seemed they were floored when Brendan Taylor played down the wrong line at a delivery from Ahmed Raza that rushed on with the arm, zipping between bat and pad to bowl him for 15. Zimbabwe were reeling against the ropes at 45 for 3 with their best batsman back in the dressing room and the asking rate now at 6.6 per over.
Summarized scores: United Arab Emirates 235 for 7 (Shahzad 59, Raza 3-41, Chatara 2-49) beat Zimbabwe 226 for 7 (Williams 80, Moor 39, Naveed 3-40, Mustafa 2-56) by three runs (D/L method)