WHEN Zimbabwe needed a hero, it was Sikandar Raza who, once again, stepped up to save the day and Chevrons blushes of a fourth consecutive defeat at the hands of an associate Namibia.
Prior to yesterday’s game, Namibia had managed to win three consecutive T20Is against Zimbabwe, a streak that stretched back to 2022.
Raza was the hero with the bat for the Chevrons as Zimbabwe successfully chased down the 199 runs target set by the Richelieu Eagles and registered a five wicket win to level the five match Castle Lite T20I Series 1-1 at the Wanderers in the Namibian capital of Windhoek.
The Chevrons all-rounder, Raza top scored with an unbeaten half century of 82 runs in their last ball victory. He finished it off with a four when the team needed three runs from the last delivery.
Along the way of being the Chevrons savior, once again, Raza broke the record for most sixes in an innings, with nine, in T20Is for Zimbabwe, going past Elton Chigumbura’s seven. Raza was deservingly named player of the match.
Despite the victory, it was a poor display by a full strength Test playing Chevrons against an associate Namibia, a performance that they would not want to repeat.
The hosts, batting first scored 198/3 in their 20 overs and Zimbabwe went on to finish on 200/5 in 20 overs as well. This was Namibia’s second overall highest T20I score and their highest against a Test playing nation.
The 398 runs that were scored in the game became the highest match aggregate involving Namibia and Zimbabwe in T20Is. The previous high was a total of 318 runs which were scored at Queens Sports Club in May last year.
Zimbabwe made two changes to the team that played in the opening match. Ainsley Ndlovu came in for Richard Ngarava while Carl Mumba replaced Faraz Akram.
The Namibians dominated with the bat from the first ball but the Chevrons managed to slow down their scoring at the back end of the innings. The Namibian wickets that fell were taken by Tendai Chatara and Ryan Burl who took one each for 31 and 30 runs in four and three overs respectively.
The other one that fell was a run out.
Namibian openers, Michael Van Lingen and Nikolaas Davin notched up a century stand for the first wicket before the former fell for 67 runs off 37 deliveries while Davin was run out on 60 runs after facing 44 balls. Their captain, Gerhard Erasmus chipped in with 38 runs from 28 balls before he was trapped in front by Chatara.
Despite not getting any wickets, it was a memorable return to the Chevrons set-up for Ndlovu who was the most economical of the seven bowlers that were used by Craig Ervine. Ndlovu conceded just 27 runs in his four overs at an economy rate of 6, 75.
In their chase, Zimbabwe lost the wicket of opener, Nick Welch for 25 runs off 19 balls in the fifth over before Ervine followed in the ninth over for 10 runs, leaving the team on 56/2 before Raza came in to save the day.
Raza, for his unbeaten 82 runs came off just 35 balls, including smashing 20 runs in the last over when the team needed 19 to level the series. Innocent Kaia made 37 runs off 30 balls for the Chevrons.
Erasmus finished with figures of 2/29 in four overs for Namibia while JJ Smit, Jan Frylinck and Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton took one wicket apiece.
The third match of the series is scheduled to take place tomorrow in Windhoek as well, starting at 2pm.