Zimbabwe 135 for 9 (Taibu 37, Baidwan 3-27) tied with
Zimbabwe earned a win they barely deserved, claiming a 3-1 victory in a bowl-out, after scrambling to a tie against Canada as the second day of T20 Canada tournament at King City produced a thrilling game. Zimbabwe, who slumped to 61 for 5 in the 11th over, recovered through a stand of 53 between Tatenda Taibu and Elton Chigumbura, but still needed 10 off the last over. Harvir Baidwan took two wickets in two balls, but Prosper Utseya and Tawanda Mupariwa squeezed nine off the next four balls, with Utseya run out off the final delivery trying to win the match.
Under the regulations, Twenty20 matches can't be tied in tournaments so it was time for cricket's version of a penalty shoot-out. Baidwan, so nearly the match-winner, missed with his effort and so too did Sunil Dhaniram. Abdool Samad then overstepped with his delivery after Zimbabwe's bowlers hit the stumps three times. The visitors could breathe a sigh of relief, but they hardly deserved their escape route
Twenty20 again proved how it levels the playing field between teams, but Canada didn't quite have the experience or skill to hold on at the end. A few misfields came into their game and occasionally bowlers lost their nerve, but to force their way into a position where they could even contemplate victory should be a huge boost to their confidence. It also shows, once again, how far Zimbabwe have sunk. In truth they are barely the standard of a mid-ranking Associate.
Defending 135, Canada made regular inroads with local hero, Rizwan Cheema, claiming two wickets in his first over to put then on their way. Baidwan almost succeeded in the final over, but was let down by some sloppy fielding after removing Timycen Maruma and Taibu to catches at long-on. However, a crucial mistake off the penultimate ball gave Utseya a boundary and he gained one off the final ball.
After the disappointing attendances on the opening day the ground was around half full as 5000 fans, mostly waiting for the second match involving Sri Lanka and Pakistan, made their way down on a chilly autumnal morning. By the time Canada were taking out Zimbabwe's middle order there was plenty of cheering and flag-waving to keep them warm and, although the result they wanted slipped away, performances like this are what Canadian cricket needs.
In the end, though, Zimbabwe had just enough thanks to two of their more successful players. Chigumbura and Taibu hauled Zimbabwe from the brink of an embarrassing defeat by adding 53 in 5.5 overs; when Chigumbura came in his team were 61 for 5 with the game slipping away.
Cheema, to the delight of the local supporters, claimed a double-wicket maiden in his first over as Hamilton Masakadza chipped to midwicket and Chamu Chibhabha was brilliantly caught by Baidwan, who then struck with the ball to trap Stuart Matsikenyeri lbw. However, as Chigumbura and Taibu steadied the innings Zimbabwe appeared to be back in control only for Henry Osinde to remove Chigumbura.
It was down to Taibu, and when he fell to the second ball of the final the game was Canada's for the taking. But in such a tight match one slip can make the difference, and so it proved.
Canada battled impressively throughout and reached 135, a total that is proving to be about par in late-season conditions. Cheema livened the crowd going by slamming 23 off 11 balls with two sixes, one over long-on and the other over deep midwicket. As quickly as Cheema got going, though, he was gone when he edged Chigumbura. Zimbabwe clawed back the run rate when Samad was run out towards the end of the fielding restrictions.
Canada were scoring at 10 an over, but it quickly sank against the spinners with Ray Price conceding three runs off his first three overs. He also bowled Mohammad Iqbal with an arm ball and when Dhaniram was run out, Canada were floundering on 78 for 6.
However they didn't give in, far from it. Karun Jethi and Balaji Rao hit useful twenties towards the end - Rao twice managing to clear the boundary - and it was enough to give Zimbabwe a huge scare. It was the type of match the tournament needed.