Scotland knock Zimbabwe out to raise World Cup hopes, Ireland beat Nepal in thriller


Zimbabwe, after an unbeaten run into the Super Six stage of the competition, have crashed out of contention after back-to-back losses to Sri Lanka and Scotland.

Chris Sole's searing new-ball spell put Scotland on top after their batters had scraped their way towards the end to put on a respectable total. Sole sent back Joylord Gumbie off the first ball and then sent skipper Craig Ervine back, cleaning him up in the third over.

Scotland keep World Cup chances alive against Zimbabwe | CWC23 Qualifier

Scotland secured a rousing victory over Zimbabwe at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023

When the in-form Sean Williams was bowled by Sole in the seventh over with Zimbabwe's score still under 30, Scotland were well and truly on top.

They could have furthered this advantage had Chris Greaves held onto a catch next over off Brandon McMullen. Instead, Scotland found a wicket at the other end with Innocent Kaia departing, but Raza, alongside Ryan Burl, put on a solid partnership to pull Zimbabwe back into the game.

Greaves made amends when he sent Raza back in his first over to break a promising stand. Burl, though, was unmoved and completed his fifty, and with Wessly Madhevere for company, Zimbabwe grew in confidence.

Mark Watt brought Scotland back into the game when he trapped Madhevere in front for 40 in the 31st over.

Burl's continued onslaught kept Scotland on their toes with Wellington Masakadza holding up his end. When McMullen returned to dismiss Masakadza, Scotland had an opening at the tail and Burl had to start attacking.

Richard Ngarava fell soon after, and Burl smashed Leask for a four and a six in succession before another attempted slog brought an end to his excellent knock of 83 from 84 balls.

Muzarabani takes a diving catch | ZIM v SCO | CWC23 Qualifier

Safyaan Sharif brought an end to Zimbabwe's innings to help Scotland leapfrog them in the points table and lift their World Cup hopes.

The Netherlands-Scotland match on Thursday becomes a virtual eliminator with the winner booking their spot alongside Sri Lanka for Cricket World Cup 2023.

Earlier, a half-century stand at the top of the order from Christopher McBride and Matthew Cross was followed by another impressive start from Brandon McMullen, but Scotland's charge against the hosts came to a halt when Sean Williams turned hero with the ball.

The Zimbabwean, who had bowled only 15 overs without taking a wicket across six matches in this tournament before this, ran riot for Zimbabwe.

The left-arm spinner sent back Cross with a slower one that the batter missed entirely while trying to slog sweep. Having broken the dangerous stand between Cross and McMullen, Williams went on to dent the Scots with the wicket of the latter.

A floated-up delivery on off-stump was slogged straight to long-on and Zimbabwe had two quick wickets and two new batters at the crease.

Williams wasn't done, though, and his deliveries were holding up just a bit in the wicket to trouble the big hits Scotland were targeting.

Richie Berrington was next to fall, trying the same fateful shot that saw the demise of the two batters before him. Looking to go aerial down the ground, Berrington miscued the loft to long-off and Scotland had gone from 102/1 to 118/4.

Tomas Mackintosh was run out at the non-striker's end when George Munsey's push down the ground brushed Blessing Muzarabani's fingertips and caught Mackintosh outside the crease.

Richard Ngarava firmly swung the contest Zimbabwe's way with a peach of a delivery, a yorker fired in fast at the base of the middle stump. Munsey was beaten all ends up and departed for 31, leaving Scotland in tatters.

Ryan Burl puts up a spirited effort in Zimbabwe chase | CWC23 Qualifier

Ryan Burl led the Zimbabwe chase with a brave fifty against Scotland at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023

A mix-up next over saw the end of Chris Greaves, leaving Michael Leask to do another resurrection act. With some calculated hits off Ngarava and Muzarabani, Leask raced to 38 off 30 balls by the end of the 48th over with Scotland's total crossing 200.

A six next over took Leask to 48, but Tendai Chatara sent him back to give Zimbabwe a big wicket.

But Mark Watt managed 13 off the final over to push Scotland to 234/8, a decent total even if chasing has been easier than in Harare here.

Earlier, Craig Ervine won the toss for Zimbabwe and unsurprising elected to bowl at the Queens Sports Club.

In team news, Zimbabwe opted for the extra batter in Innocent Kaia at the expense of Luke Jongwe, while Brad Evans sat out for the returning Tendai Chatara. Scotland, meanwhile, with the same team that demolished the West Indies by seven wickets in Harare.

After a net run rate-sapping defeat to Sri Lanka in their last outing, only a win will be enough for the tournament hosts on Tuesday to claim the final ticket for India 2023. For Scotland, a win would knock out their opponents, and lead to a quasi-final with the Dutch to determine the last spot, though net run rate calculations would come into play come Thursday.

Chris Greaves living out his dream with Scotland | CWC23 Qualifier

Chris Greaves living out his dream with Scotland | CWC23 Qualifier

Under that scenario, the Dutch would have to beat Scotland by a margin determined by the Scots' winning margin today.

Scotland and Zimbabwe have recent Cricket World Cup Qualifier history, playing out a tie in the group stage at the last tournament five years ago on the same ground. Chatara dismissed Mark Watt for Scotland to go nine down with two to win before Blessing Muzarabani dismissed Brad Wheal caught behind after leaking a wide to complete the tie.

The one carry-over point each into the next round did neither team any favours, both falling a point short of Afghanistan's tally at the end of the Super Six stage. Though as already seen in this year's edition thanks to the now-famous Netherlands-West Indies meeting earlier at this year's tournament, a Super Over now determines a winner for every match.

Over at the Takashinga Cricket Club in Harare, Ireland took on Nepal in a battle for seventh place, with Nepal winning the toss and elected to bowl.

It was the first official ODI meeting between the two sides.

Chasing 269 for a win, Ireland were led by Harry Tector with the bat. The 23-year-old acted as the fulcrum around whom the rest of the batting line-up functioned. Tector walked in at 23/2 with Ireland in some trouble after Andy McBrine and Andrew Balbirnie had fallen in quick succession.

Ireland beat Nepal in a play-off thriller | CWC23 Qualifier

Ireland reached Nepal's total in their final over at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023

Stirling followed a bit later, but Lorcan Tucker stuck around for Tector to build Ireland a good base.

Just as the partnership seemed to be taking the game away from Nepal, Karan KC returned to scalp Tucker, trapping him in front for 24. Sandeep Lamichhane doubled the advantage when Tector was out caught at deep extra cover.

Curtis Campher resumed from where Tector had left off, and with George Dockrell for company, Ireland chipped away at the target.

Harry Tector hits a crucial fifty for Ireland against Nepal | CWC23 Qualifier

Ireland batter Harry Tector put together a fine half-century against Nepal at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier

Nepal managed to break the stand before the game was done and dusted with Karan KC once again striking. Kishore Mahato sent back Dockrell as the game headed to a thrilling climax.

Gareth Delany and Mark Adair rebuilt carefully, with a 10-run over off Dipendra Singh Airee's 48th over bringing Ireland to the cusp off a win. Karan, however, added a fourth wicket, dismissing Adair to leave Ireland eight down and needing five to win off the final over.

Barry McCarthy hit a four off the second ball in the over to close a tense game for Ireland.

Gulshan Jha fires Nepal with unbeaten fifty | CWC23 Qualifier

Nepal batter Gulshan Jha put together a fine half-century against Ireland at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023

Earlier, Craig Young struck twice early on for Ireland, dismissing the dangerous Kushal Bhurtel and Gyanendra Malla. Arjun Saud and skipper Rohit Paudel rebuilt for Nepal with a half-century stand, but Curtis Campher's golden arm brought an end to the captain's stay in the middle.

Saud fell soon after to Gareth Delany, but Nepal had a resurrection act going on from Bhim Sarki and Kushal Malla. Another half-century stand gave wings to Nepal's surge, but Ireland cut them off with three wickets in quick succession.

Barry McCarthy dismissed Sarki and Andy McBrine trapped Dipendra Singh Airee, fresh off a match-winning knock last game, in front for a duck.

Malla fell next over to McCarthy and Ireland seemed to have gained a decisive edge in the game. However, Sandeep Lamichhane once again proved his worth with the bat while Gulsan Jha joined in on the act with some big hits.

Spirited Nepal take it to the line against Ireland - Nepali Highlights | CWC23 Qualifier

Highlights with Nepali commentary as Nepal faced Ireland at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023

Jha knocked off his third ODI fifty, finding boundaries at regular intervals. Lamichhane hit three fours off Young in the 47th over and Jha followed it up with a six and a four next over.

Despite Adair's double-wicket over, a 13-run final over pushed Nepal to a formidable 268, leaving Ireland with a stiff run chase on their hands.

ZimbabweNepalIrelandIreland vs Nepal - PlayoffsScotlandZimbabwe vs Scotland - Super SixICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers, 2023Cricket World Cup