Zimbabwe eased to a victory over Scotland that sealed their place in the Super 12s, sending home their opponents in the process.
Both teams came into the winner-takes-all clash with a victory each to their name, knowing too that whoever came out on top would progress at the other’s expense.
Ultimately, it was Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine who took the game by the scruff of the neck, guiding his country to complete a modest run-chase, helped by Sikandar Raza, the only batter in the game who was able to consistently time the ball.
Despite winning the toss and electing to bat, Scotland struggled to ever get going: George Munsey made 54 off 51 balls to hold the innings together, but he never found his timing and eventually chipped down the throat of Milton Shumba at deep square leg.
Munsey had seen Michael Jones and Matt Cross fall in the powerplay, the former caught well by Raza over his shoulder at cover, the latter by the diving Wessly Madhevere.
Richie Berrington was boundaryless for 13, before his dismissal in the 10th over brought Calum Macleod to the crease. He toiled for 25 but managed to hit just a single four in 26 deliveries, eventually caught at cover as he looked to pierce the field in search of a late charge. But that never came, despite Michael Leask’s brief cameo where he came out swinging.
In a brief interview at the interval, Munsey pointed to a lack of match practice under lights and also praised Zimbabwe’s bowling; Tendai Chatara’s second over was a maiden and his first accounted for Jones, while he and Richard Ngarava both found plenty of swing to work with.
Ryan Burl’s leg-spin wasn’t called on but Raza had Berrington caught in a miserly four-over spell of off-spin, with Blessing Muzarabani not quite at his best and the most expensive of Zimbabwe’s attack.
Regis Chakabva was trapped in front by the third ball of Zimbabwe’s reply and Madhevere dragged on without scoring, but Ervine was a constant, even when Sean Williams clipped a drag-down from Leask to deep square leg.
That brought Raza to the crease, and the allrounder – one of the T20I cricketers of the year – pulled one six over the legside and carved another extra cover to take the wind from Scotland’s sails. He gloved behind for 40 off 23 balls to give Josh Davey his second wicket and Ervine was caught at mid-off for 58, but the damage had been done as Zimbabwe – at their first World Cup since 2016 – progressed at the Scots’ expense, winning the group in the process.