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Hamilton Masakadza steers Zimbabwe to warm-up win

Hong Kong holds nerve in other warm-up match to beat HPCA XI by one wicket in low-scoring thriller

05 March 2016 19:36

Hamilton Masakadza gave Zimbabwe’s campaign in the ICC World Twenty20 2016 the best possible tune-up, smashing 68 not out off 49 balls in a six-wicket victory in the team’s final warm-up match ahead of the event, against Ireland at the HPCA stadium in Dharamsala on Saturday (March 5).

Put in to bat, Ireland’s innings didn’t gather much momentum, ending at 155 for 8 with only Gary Wilson (38 off 35) and captain William Porterfield (31 off 29) getting past 20. The Ireland side began well, and at 70 for 1 in the ninth over, it seemed well placed to put up a good total, but Zimbabwe’s bowlers struck regularly to keep the eventual total down.

Ireland’s total was propped up by 24 extras, which pushed the team beyond the 150-mark, but with Hamilton finding his range while smashing three fours and six sixes, Zimbabwe got over the line in 17.5 overs.

In the first half, Zimbabwe’s bowlers shared the wickets among them. Tendai Chatara had the best figures with 2 for 33, but the trio of Donald Tiripano (1 for 20 in four overs), Wellington Masakadza (1 for 19 in four overs) and Sean Williams (1 for 19 in three overs) were also impressive. The other wicket-taker was Tawanda Mupariwa, who had 2 for 36.

Ireland’s openers put on 34 in quick time, before Paul Stirling fell to Chatara in the fourth over. Wilson joined Porterfield for a 36-run stand, the best of the innings, but once Wellington got the Ireland captain, the team couldn’t string together a good partnership.

Zimbabwe’s reply got off to a flier, with Hamilton and Vusi Sibanda putting on 46 runs in 32 balls before Boyd Rankin castled Sibanda. That didn’t affect Zimbabwe’s momentum, with Richmond Mutumbami hitting 29 off 18 balls in a second-wicket stand that was worth 47.

Though Mutumbami fell to Kevin O’Brien, Zimbabwe didn’t lose wickets in a clutch. Hamilton was instrumental in steering his team through, batting till the end and playing a significant role in all the mini-partnerships that ensured Zimbabwe was on track.

For Ireland, no bowler took more than one wicket and Craig Young’s 1 for 18 in three overs were the best figures.

In the other warm-up match in Dharmasala, Hong Kong held its nerve in a thriller against Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association XI to win by one wicket.

After winning the toss and bowling out HPCA XI for 105, Hong Kong was reduced to 13 for 2 in the third over, Ajay Rana grabbing both wickets.

But Ryan Campbell, with Mark Chapman for company, managed to pull Hong Kong out of trouble. The two put on a 64-run partnership with the runs coming at a good clip, and a win seemed straightforward from there.

But Nikhil Gangta removed Chapman for 22, triggering an incredible collapse. Gangta got rid off Nizakat Khan next while Arjun Sharma trapped Cambell lbw for 46 off 42 balls.

The equation was still fairly easy -- 19 runs required from the last five overs with five wickets in hand -- but nerves nearly got the better of Hong Kong. Sumeet Varma was handed the ball -- an inspired move, it turned out -- and snared 3 for 5 in two overs. There was even a run out off his last delivery, which meant Hong Kong needed five more runs in the last over.

Anshuman Rath (12 not out) and Nadeem Ahmed (5 not out), however, showed great composure to take the side across the line, with Nadeem hitting the winning runs off the last ball.

It was only fitting as Nadeem was the one who set up the game, taking 3 for 15 to keep HPCA XI to a modest total.

Ankush Bains got the home side off to a blazing start, blasting 31 off 14 even as wickets fell at the other end. But once Bains perished to Adil Mehmood, Hong Kong managed to claw its way back.

Gangta chipped in with 21, but the rest struggled to rotate the strike and didn’t make much of a contribution, Mehmood and Cambell finishing with two wickets each. Vinay Galetiya hit a run-a-ball 18 to take HPCA past 100, but while the eventual total did prove challenging for Hong Kong, it just wasn't enough.

Please click here to review the Zimbabwe v Ireland match in full in the ICC Match Centre

Please click here to review the Hong Kong v HPCA XI match in full in the ICC Match Centre