ZIMBABWE captain, Graeme Cremer, felt his side had dodged a bullet after pulling off a great escape to draw their final Group B against Scotland in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier at Queens Sports Club yesterday.
The contest went to the wire, with Scotland needing two runs to win in the last over with no wicket in hand. Lanky pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani bowled a wide, which tied the scores, then he had Brad Wheal caught behind by Brendan Taylor with his next delivery.
Cremer felt his batsmen fell to soft dismissals and he believed they should have lost the match.
Zimbabwe finished on top of the group with seven points, while Scotland were second with the same number of points, but an inferior net run rate.
Afghanistan, beaten by Zimbabwe and Scotland, still made it to the next stage after Nepal defeated Hong Kong at Bulawayo Athletic Club. Since points against teams that did not make it to the next round are discarded, Zimbabwe head into the Super Six stage with three points.
The Chevrons now travel to Harare where they play against Ireland on Friday before taking on West Indies on Monday at Harare Sports Club. Zimbabwe will then play against United Arab Emirates on Thursday next week at Old Hararians. Craig Ervine had earlier on top-scored with 57 runs, followed by 44 from Taylor, as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 210 in 46.4 overs.
Opening bowler Safyaan Sharif and left-arm spinner Michael Leask did the damage for Scotland. Man of the match, Sharif, picked five for 33 in 8.4 overs, while Leask had four for 37 in eight overs.
Having defended 196 against Afghanistan at the same venue a week ago, Zimbabwe must have felt they had another chance to pull off a sensational victory.
Left-arm spinner Tendai Chisoro picked up two wickets in succession.
Matthew Cross was the first to fall, taken at cover by Sean Williams. Tom Sole followed, caught behind by Taylor. Zimbabwe claimed the big wicket of Calum MacLeod through left-arm spinner Williams, who had him caught in the deep by Ervine.
Cremer won the battle of the captains, getting his opposite number Kyle Coetzer for 39. Cremer could have had his second wicket, but Richie Berrington survived. A 76-run partnership between Berrington and George Munsey for the fifth wicket took Scotland closer to their target. Cremer broke the stand when he had Berrington taken by Sikandar Raza for 47, the highest score by a Scottish batsman in the match.
The skipper struck again in the next over, his delivery enticing Munsey to edge to wicketkeeper Taylor. Chisoro picked up his third wicket, trapping Craig Wallace lbw to leave the Scots 170 for seven and needing 41 runs to win. He was followed shortly by Sharif, who was caught and bowled by Raza.
Seamer Tendai Chatara took the wicket of Mark Watt leaving the Scots requiring just two runs to win. It looked like Muzarabani had thrown it away when he gave away an extra, but the young bowler got the last wicket to ensure his team took a point. Cremer and Chisoro took three wickets apiece, Williams, Muzarabani and Chatara each took one wicket.
P W L T NR Pts NRR
Zimbabwe 4 3 0 1 0 7 1.035
Scotland 4 3 0 1 0 7 0.855
Afghanistan 4 1 3 0 0 2 0.048
Nepal 4 1 3 0 0 2 -0.893
Hong Kong 4 1 3 0 0 2 -1.121