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WC Qualifiers round-up: Raza special, Ireland's meltdown, & more

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Last updated on 22 Jun 2023 | 06:39 PM
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WC Qualifiers round-up: Raza special, Ireland's meltdown, & more

The first ten matches of the World Cup Qualifiers witnessed heartbreaks, upsets, and some memorable moments

The battle for the two spots in the main stages of the World Cup has begun with a bang. Hosts Zimbabwe are off to a bright start, winning both their league games. On a surprising note, Oman are in the lead in Group B with two wins in two. Here are some moments from the first week:

Shocking start for Ireland

Heading into the Qualifiers, Ireland was one of the teams to watch out for, especially with their experience. However, they have endured a dismal start.

In the first match, batting first, Ireland posted an average total of 281. George Dockrell was the star with the bat as he scored 91 from 89 balls. Harry Tector chipped in with an 82-ball 54. Oman, on the back of three half-centurions from Kashyap Prajapati (72 off 74), Zeeshan Maqsood (59 off 67), and Aqib Illyas (52 off 49), chased the target with five wickets in hand and 11 balls to spare—a howler to start their campaign. 

Scotland win in a thriller 

Ireland were up against Scotland in the second game, looking for redemption. Once again, they faltered. They were four for 33 around the ninth over. Brandon McMullen ripped through the top order as none of their batters between #2 to #5 could score more than six. 

Just when they thought Curtis Campher and Andy McBrine were in a rebuilding phase, McBrine was dismissed for 32 (5/70). A total of 200 looked far-fetched. But, Campher and Dockrell forged a 136-run stand for the sixth wicket. Coming into bat in a dire situation, Campher scored a magnificent century (120 off 108) and helped Ireland post 286. 

Scotland were in a similar situation in the chase. They were reeling in at 152/7 when Mark Watt joined hands with Michael Leask. The pair hoisted an 82-run partnership for the eighth wicket, and Leask, alongside Safyaan Sharif, posted another 50-run stand off just 27 balls for the ninth wicket. 

Last over drama video

Needing eight runs in the final over, Leask picked up a boundary off the first ball, thanks to a misfield by Tector. Mark Adair was able to come back well as he dismissed Sharif on the third ball and followed it with a dot. Needing two off the last ball, Leask managed to get an inside edge that trickled towards fine leg. Scotland won by one wicket on the final delivery. 

In ODIs, South Africa against New Zealand in 2013 was the last team to win on the last ball with just one wicket. 

Hasaranga too good for UAE batters

Batting first, Sri Lanka posted a massive total of 355. All their top four batters registered 50+ scores. This is only the fourth innings in which they have achieved this feat. 

UAE were batting well till the introduction of Wanindu Hasaranga. Once he came out with his bag of tricks, they crumbled. From 82/1, UAE lost three wickets in a cluster. From there on, they could never recover. Sri Lanka bundled out UAE for a paltry total of 180, winning by 175 runs.

Hasaranga was the star with the ball as he picked up his career-best spell (6/24). In ODIs for Sri Lanka, his bowling figures against UAE are the third-best by a spinner. 

Sikandar Raza into the record books

Zimbabwe won their first game against Nepal, and Raza played no part in that. He did not bat as Zimbabwe chased the target with eight wickets. With the ball, he bowled six overs, conceding 44 runs at an economy of 7.3. 

In the second game, it was all about Raza. He picked up four wickets against the Netherlands with the ball and restricted them to 315. In the run chase, he smashed the fastest century by a Zimbabwean. Previously, Sean Williams, against Nepal in the first game, had hit a century off 70 balls, the fastest. Raza achieved the feat in just 54 balls. 

He now has seven ODI centuries, the joint second most for Zimbabwe. Brendan Taylor leads the list with 11. Alistair Campbell also has seven. Raza became the 13th full-member player to bag a four-wicket haul and hit a century in the same ODI. 

Heartbreak for Bhurtel

In their first game against Zimbabwe, Nepal were in a great position. The openers were unseparated in the first 30 overs. Kushal Bhurtel was scoring at a brisk pace, while Aasif Sheikh was the second fiddle. 

In the 32nd over, Bhurtel was on the verge of his second ODI century. However, he was completely undone by a Yorker from Wellington Mazakadza. In the end, he fell short by just one run. 

Brilliance from Bhurtel

In Nepal's second game, against the West Indies, Bhurtel was in the limelight again. However, this time, for his screamer on the field. 

Bhurtel's catch video

Kyle Mayers, looking to pull, mistimed the shot, and the ball ballooned towards wide mid-on. Bhurtel running from mid-on, plunged to grab and catch it mid-air. Definitely, this could be the catch of the tournament.

Ali Khan's wicket celebration

In the Playoff Qualifier against Jersey, USA's premium fast bowler Ali Khan was found guilty of a Level-1 ICC code of conduct breach. This match saw him receive his fourth and two-match suspension. He was found "using language, actions, or gestures which disparage or could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon their dismissal during an International Match."

Ali Khan celebration video

Because of that, he missed the first two matches (against West Indies and Nepal). On his return, when he picked up Vikramjit Singh, he celebrated the wicket by taping his mouth. 

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