Cricket: UAE all but end Zimbabwe's World Cup dream with three run win
HARARE (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates secured a surprise three run win via the Duckworth/Lewis method to all but end Zimbabwe’s hopes of reaching the 2019 World Cup on Thursday.
Chasing a rain-reduced total of 230 in 40 overs at the Harare Sports Club, Zimbabwe could only manage 226 for seven despite a run-a-ball 80 from Sean Williams.
The defeat left them with the slimmest of chances of joining West Indies as qualifiers for the 10-team tournament. Hosts England and the top seven other teams in the ICC ODI Championship on Sept. 30 last year automatically made the cut for the 2019 event.
The winner of the final Super Six fixture between Ireland and Afghanistan will reach the global showpiece. If Friday's fixture is a washout, Ireland will qualify for next year's finals.
However, if the Ireland-Afghanistan encounter ends in a tie (with each side having batted for at least 25 overs), Zimbabwe can qualify for the World Cup as Ireland’s net run-rate will drop behind the African nation.
But that provided little comfort to Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer.
"We lost wickets in crucial periods," Cremer said at the presentation ceremony.
"Taking nothing away from UAE, they bowled and fielded excellently. We'll pick ourselves up soon, but right now it doesn't feel too good."
Zimbabwe won the toss and restricted UAE to 235 for seven in 47.5 overs before rain brought a premature end to the innings.
When play was able to resume, Zimbabwe were set a revised target of 230 in 40 overs, but they battled from the start as Mohammad Naveed (3-40) picked up the early wickets of Solomon Mire (6) and Hamilton Masakadza (7).
Williams kept them in the fight, and when he was out with Zimbabwe needing another 24 from 18 balls, they were still in the contest.
But some tight bowling left them needing 15 off Naveed’s final over, which was reduced to seven from two balls. The UAE seamer held his nerve to deny their hosts.
"It's a big win for us, beating a test team. No one knew about us, now they'll know about us," UAE captain Rohan Mustafa said.
"I feel sorry for Zimbabwe but that's sport."
(Reporting By Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)