Elton Chigumbura scored a fluent half-century as Zimbabwe beat the United Arab Emirates by five wickets in a qualifying match to stay in the hunt for a place in the ICC World Twenty20 in Sylhet, Bangladesh, on Friday.
Set a modest 116 after opting to bowl, Zimbabwe lost early wickets before overhauling the target in 13.4 overs courtesy a fine effort by Chigumbura, who remained unbeaten on 53.
The right-hand batsman struck six fours and three sixes in his fiery knock, which came off just 21 deliveries.
The African side needed to win the match in 15.4 overs to go past Ireland in net run-rate and remain afloat in Group B.
Chigumbura ensured that the team won within the stipulated overs.
They will now hope that the Netherlands beat Ireland in the day’s later match.
Chigumbura, who was deservedly named man of the match, got a life in the 12th over when he was dropped by Khurram Khan off medium pacer Manjula Guruge and he capitalised on it to steer Zimbabwe home after a top-order collapse that saw them reduced to 34 for four at one stage.
For the UAE, already out of contention for a place in the main draw, Guruge was the most successful bowler, grabbing two wickets for 18 runs in an economical spell of four overs.
Earlier, the UAE crumbled miserably. Wicketkeeper Swapnil Patil’s 27-ball 30 was the only highlight of their batting.
His 58-run stand with Khurram Khan (26) for the third wicket was the lone worthy partnership in the innings.
Patil struck five boundaries before being trapped leg before by Sikander Raza, who grabbed two wickets in his three overs, which cost a mere 15 runs.
The UAE failed miserably to build partnerships after the duo's dismissal and could have found themselves folding up for a less than a hundred had it not been for a couple of entertaining cameos lower down the order.
Kamran Shazad stood out with a 15-ball 21, which was laced with a four and a couple of sixes, which came in the final over of the UAE innings.
Left-arm spinner Sean Williams was again the pick of the Zimbabwean bowlers, snaring three wickets while conceding merely 15 runs in his quota of four overs.
Image: Elton Chigumbura
Photograph: Getty Images