Zimbabwe innings that was spun in Harare by Ish Sodhi was eventually fixed by Sikandar Raza, who fought till the end with the magnificent ton that lifted the home team from 146/8 to 235/8 against New Zealand in the second One-Day International (ODI) off the three-match series.
The leg spinner bagged three wickets in his only second, putting the home team in the driver’s seat in their must-win game. Although it was Mitchell McClenaghan who opened the wickets window for the Kiwis, the men in red had hardly answers to the spin produced by the 22-year old bowler.
However, the entire limelight was turned towards Raza who finished the match with his third ODI hundred and had shared an 89-run partnership for the 9th wicket with Tinashe Panyangara.
Hamilton Masakadza was the first batsman to depart. He fell to McClenaghan’s short delivery in the third over, where had defended in the front foot but unfortunate for him that the ball kissed his gloves and lobbed smoothly in the hands of the second slip, Tom Latham. That wicket-maiden over was followed by the right-hand batsman Chamu Chibhabha taking on Matt Henry by smashing him for three boundaries in the fifth over. That over by Henry got the Zimbabweans get going in the match.
When Chibhabha and Craig Ervine had seemed to settle down, bringing out the required boundaries every over, Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson chose medium pace by handing the ball to Grant Elliot and that change eventually went on to be successful when Elliot removed Ervine in his second over. A good line from the bowler forced Ervine to defend who missed it miserably that smacked his off stump.
Two overs later, Sodhi was on the top with his very first international wicket when the two-down batsman Regis Chakabva , who tried to play the fuller towards the leg side, got struck on the middle and on the leg too. The 22-year old wasn’t finished yet, Chamu Chibhabha and Graeme Cremer would later find themselves becoming the young spinner’s victims on Tuesday.
With the likes of Williamson, Martin Guptil and Ross Taylor in the batting line-up, Black Caps should comfortably chase down this total. However, after witnessing Zimbabwe’s dominance on the home soil, there will be no surprise if bowlers Tinashe Panyangara and Prosper Utseya become their country’s heroes today!