Zimbabwe relied on their experience in international cricket to get the better of a fighting Hong Kong by 14 runs in the opening match of the World Twenty20 Qualifiers at VCA stadium in Nagpur on Tuesday.
Invited to bat in the Group B contest, Zimbabwe posted 158 for eight and then overcame some anxious moments before managing to restrict the rivals to 144 for six.
Zimbabwe opener Vusimuzi Sibanda top scored with a 59-run knock that came off 46 balls with five boundaries and a six.
Down the order, Elton Chigumbura played an unbeaten cameo of 30 runs that helped the side cross the 150-run mark.
Hong Kong skipper Tanwir Afzal returned impressive figures of 19 from 2 in his four overs. Young paceman Aizaz Khan (2/33) also scalped two Zimbabwe wickets.
Hong Kong made a sedate start to their chase but accelerated in the middle overs before losing quick wickets towards the end to fall short. Hong Kong’s players showed a lot of heart and at one stage looked on course to score an upset win when skipper Tanwir Afzal went hammer and tongs.
Opener Jamie Atkinson batted extremely well by scoring 53 off 44 balls but he got out in the 17th over. Hong Kong then lost Anshuman Rath (13) and Nizakat Khan (0) in successive balls in the 19th over.
Skipper Afzal struck an unbeaten 31 in just 17 balls but it only served to reduce the margin of defeat. His fearless batting and ability to hit hard and long, though, was a big plus for Hong Kong.
Donald Tiripano (2/27) and Tendai Choitara (2/28) shared four wickets between them.
Zimbabwe next play Scotland while Hong Kong will clash with Afghanistan on Thursday at the same venue.