Sikandar Raza scripts historic, also equals Virat Kohli's 2023 record as Zimbabwe win in World Cup qualifiers
Zimbabwe's experienced all-rounder Sikandar Raza led the charge with a special performance with both bat and the ball.
Namibia and Zimbabwe secured crucial victories against Kenya and Rwanda respectively on Monday in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Africa Region Qualifier.
A disciplined Namibia bowling line-up made Kenya toil hard in the early overs. Kenya lost openers Rushabhvardhan Patel (1), Collins Obuya (15), and Pushkar Sharma (5) for paltry scores.
Irfan Karim (43*) and Sachin Bhudia (18) came together to stabilise the innings with their crucial knocks. However, the lack of firepower in the final phase resulted in Kenya finishing the innings at 104/6.
While chasing 105, Namibia added 20 runs for the first wicket, Michael van Lingen was the first player to fall after edging the ball which was taken behind the wicket.
In the subsequent overs, Namibia lost three more wickets in a space of just 27 runs. It seemed as if Kenya had found a way to sneak back in, Jan Frylinck (57*) and JJ Smit (14*) put a halt in their attempt and put in a quick-paced match-winning stand of 59 runs.
With this win, Namibia sit at the top of the Africa Region Qualifier points table. They have four wins from four contests and have eight points to their name. Despite losing this game, Kenya managed to hold on to their second place with six points.
In the second game of the day, Zimbabwe won by 144 runs against Rwanda. After suffering a shocking defeat to Uganda, Zimbabwe's aspirations to qualify for the T20 World Cup were challenged, but they produced a good brand of cricket against Rwanda to keep their chances of qualification alive.
Zimbabwe's experienced all-rounder Sikandar Raza led the charge with a special performance with both bat and the ball. Leading from the front, the skipper opened the batting and hit a quick-fire 58 in 36 balls.
His knock was graced with six fours and four sixes. His partner on the other end, Tadiwanashe Marumani matched Raza and added 50 from 31 balls with the help of three fours and three sixes.
Brisk contributions from Ryan Burl (44* from 21) and Luke Jongwe (17* from 4) in the death overs, helped Zimbabwe to 215/4.
Raza continued his stunning form and did serious damage with the ball. His efforts ensured that the Rwanda chase was never able to spread its wings right from the kick-off. While Richard Ngrava (3/11), and Blessing Muzarabani (1/10) did the early damage, Ryan Burl (2/7) hit the middle-order with his clinical spell.
Raza came in and finished the game once more for Zimbabwe. He wiped off the tail with a hat-trick in the 19th over - the first by a Zimbabwe men's cricketer in this format - to finish the game with a figure of 3/3.
Raza's heroic with both bat and ball earned him the Player of the Match award. This was his sixth Player of the Match award this year, the joint most with India's Virat Kohli.
Despite this win, Zimbabwe sit in the fourth spot with only four points on the table and needs other results to fall their way in order to qualify. Uganda hold the second spot with six points and a net run rate of 0.503.
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