Twitter Reactions: Sikandar Raza turns hero again as Zimbabwe edge past Ireland in thrilling T20I showdown
Raza picked up three wickets with the ball and later hit 65 runs with the bat to help Zimbabwe win.
Sikandar Raza’s brilliance with both bat and ball sealed Zimbabwe’s fate in the first T20I of the series. The veteran all-rounder has been a force to reckon with in the white-ball format as courtesy of his 65 runs off 42 deliveries, Zimbabwe defeated Ireland by just one wicket in Harare.
Batting first, the Paul Stirling-led side struggled to get going. The skipper got out after scoring 14 runs while his opening partner Andrew Balbirnie hit 32 runs off 25 deliveries. Lorcan Tucker and Harry Tector showed great spirit but none of them could take it to the next level. Raza picked up three wickets in the middle as Ireland looked to be under immense pressure. However, towards the fag end of the innings, Gareth Delany played a cameo of 26* runs off just 11 deliveries, which helped Ireland post 147 runs on board in the first innings.
Meanwhile, the surface was hugely favouring the bowlers and hence, chasing 148 runs wasn’t an easy task. Zimbabwe lost a few early wickets and hence, there was pressure in the middle that they had to tackle. That’s when the skipper led by example. He held one end and scored some important runs while wickets kept on falling on the other end. Raza with his half-century kept Zimbabwe in the hunt but he couldn’t see it through.
The 37-year-old got out when 11 runs were required in 11 deliveries. With eight wickets down, the home team were almost out of the race but Trevor Ngarava and Trevor Gwandu kept rotating singles which put the pressure back on Ireland. There was another late twist when Ngarava got out in the penultimate delivery of the match. Zimbabwe needed two runs in the final delivery, which wasn’t an easy task for the number 11 batter.
However, an inside edge of Blessing Muzarabani helped the batters run for two as Zimbabwe managed to win a thrilling encounter.