ZIMBABWE T20I skipper Sikandar Raza

ZIMBABWE T20I skipper Sikandar Raza says he was excited to be part of history after leading the Chevrons to a thrilling win over Ireland at Harare Sports Club on Thursday night. 

The T20I was the first-ever international game to be played under lights in Zimbabwe following the completion of the floodlights project at the ground this year. 

The second match will take place at the same venue this afternoon, starting at 1pm. The third and final T20I clash is set for tomorrow at the same time at Harare Sports Club. 

But Zimbabwe, who have experimented the feasibility of night games with the recent Zim Afro T10 and also the women’s domestic matches, on Thursday night broke new ground by having the Chevrons host Ireland under lights. 

Apart from being the first captain to lead Zimbabwe in the milestone match, Raza chose the stage to shine bright and was named Player of the Match for his exploits with both bat and ball. 

“Nice to be part of history. Credit to fans for coming out in numbers. First game under lights, cracker of a game,” he told CricInfo. 

The game was won the last ball, with Zimbabwe needing two runs off Barry McCarthy and new batsman Blessing Muzarabani got an inside edge that fortuitously beat the keeper for the winning runs. 

Earlier on, Ireland had been sent in to bat first after losing the toss and they managed 147/8 in their allotted overs. 

The tourists got off to a dynamic start after they were sent in to bat in this T20 international, with Andy Balbirnie (32) and captain Paul Stirling (14) scoring 38 runs off the first three overs. 

But the Zimbabwean bowlers recovered their ground with Raza the leading with his 3/28 while Richard Ngarava (2/23) and Blessing Muzarabani (2/24) also weighed in. 

Raza then led the assault with the bat with his 65 runs off 42 deliveries. This innings made the huge difference as Zimbabwe laboured to 248/9 in their response.

Clive Madande’s quickfire 20 from 11 balls was also key for Zimbabwe later on but the Chevrons will need to seriously look at their batting ahead of the second match this afternoon. 

“Happy with the chase, credit to the batters. Made mistakes here and there but important that we got over the line. I am never a guy who looks into personal performances. 

“I was gutted to have not finished the game. The little knock from Clive Madande was very crucial. Wessly Madhevere (25) got out at a wrong time. Pretty happy and proud of my team. 

“Just wanted to tell Madande that if you remain positive, you’ll see the ball better. When you give responsibility to these guys they do well. Everything that happens stays on the field.” 

Ireland will be looking to bounce back this afternoon. Their captain Stirling thinks they can build from the positives from the first match. 

“First of all it was a brilliant game. Hopefully we entertained the spectators here. Close game. You can point the loss at different directions but it was a good game. 

“Not one area but we’ll have a good look at different facts. We lost wickets in crucial points. Should have got to 160. We’ll assess and come back better. 

“We picked up wickets at crucial points. That’s how you close T20 games. A run here and there was crucial.”


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