Be it in the IPL or for their countries, their never say die attitude to perform at all costs is a blessing for their respective countries and club teams.
When we talk about blessing, it is interesting to mention, a not so famed Zimbabwe also have a Blessing of their own.
A young fast bowler named Blessing Muzarabani.
As I had mentioned in a previous preview piece, Muzarabani is a Zimbabwean star for the future.
Yes, that’s right.
He might not have played the IPL, yet. Still young in his bowling career, but his performance yesterday to earn the Chevrons a win over Pakistan albeit in a super over in the third ODI, their first in 22 years on this sub-continent patch, was truly what dreams are made of.
Not only did he pick a fifer in regulation time but also knocked over 2 in the super over to restrict Pakistan to only 2 runs.
Zimbabwe comfortably chased that down with the wily fox, Sikandar Raza hitting the winning boundary, ending their 10-match losing streak.
This, in the history of ODI cricket was only the second Super Over.
The first, as a matter of fact, was the infamous result that ended in a (super over) tie in the 2019 World Cup final, a game that ensured England’s glory in the high-octane contest where the Kiwis all but prevailed.
What’s more Zimbabwe also registered themselves with 10 points on the World Super League table which helps in automatic qualification for the top 7 teams in the 2023 World Cup including hosts India.
So, lets dissect how Zimbabwe put up an inspired show to beat Pakistan in the Super Over.
The Chevrons had put up a fight in the first 2 ODIs albeit unfortunately ending up on the losing side though their batting star Brendan Taylor looked seriously impressive with scoring a ton in the first game followed by an impressive 36 in the second.
With the series all but lost, it was pride at stake for the Southern African country and needless to say the insatiable need to ending the 10-match downward spiral.
Zimbabwe won the toss and their captain Chamu Chibhabha elected to bat, hoping for a good show from his batters to set up a respectable total.
And his batters didn’t disappoint with Brendan Taylor again scoring an ominous 56 of 68 balls with 8 fours.
If I may, allow me to take a moment to dwell on the greatness of this artist who from 2004 when all the senior pros walked away from the national team owing to Government interference in sport, has been Zimbabwe’s most consistent batter with scoring 39 fifties and 11 tons in his 198 innings taking the major burden of the teams runs on his able shoulders.
A record arguably. even the best batters in world cricket would envy!
So, coming back to the game at hand, Brendan’s compatriot Sean Williams also played his part in reaching his fourth century, an impressive 118 off 135 balls, albeit with three lifelines with catching errs from the Pakistani fielders.
Add to that, a quick fire 33 from young Wesley Madhevere who has already amassed 2 fifties in just 6 outings and an aggressive 45 from the magician Sikandar Raza, the Chevrons mounted a more than decent 278.
Pakistan in reply faltered early losing their first 5 scalps for a paltry 88 runs with the Chevron pace battery of Richard Ngarava and Donald Tiripano claiming a brace.
The ever-reliable batter and now captain Babar Azam steadied the ship with a run a ball 125 and his century stand with pace bowler Wahab Riaz who scored 52 of 55 balls helped the Men in Green reach closer to the Zim target.
With 5 required of the last ball to win, Pakistan No. 10 batsman Mohammad Musa hit a four off paceman Richard Ngarava to tie the scores as the ball when through Zimbabwean fielder, Tendai Chisoro.
Despite the tie, the star of the evening was surely Blessing Muzarabani who claimed his first 5 wicket halt including the prized scalps of opener Imam-Ul-Haq at the start and Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi in the penultimate over when Pakistan seemed to be edging ever closer to the target.
What’s more, his Super-Over display of earning 2 more was the icing on the cake earning him the payer of the match.
Sean Williams in his post-match interview summed it up well, when he said ‘’This win is huge for us. A lot of people do panic under pressure, but I feel we deserved to win … we are tired of getting beaten, it’s way too long.”
Truth be told with a performance like we saw last night, one can never count out Zimbabwe and it gives me immense hope to see them more than ably match Pakistan in the 3 T20s to come.
Though only hope isn’t enough, consistent performance needs to back it, else disappointment will resurface.
For a Chevron fan, there has been too much of it!