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Raza masterclass as Zimbabwe smash Dutch in World Cup qualifier

Sikandar Raza delivered an all-rounder’s masterclass to help Zimbabwe to a convincing six-wicket win over the Netherlands in their Cricket World Cup Group A qualifier on Tuesday.

After first bagging four Dutch wickets, Raza then hit an entertaining unbeaten 102 off just 54 balls — the fastest ever hundred in one-day internationals by a Zimbabwe player.

The Netherlands had posted 315 for six wickets thanks to 88 from Vikramjit Singh, 83 from skipper Scott Edwards and 59 from Max O’Dowd.

Saqib Zulfiqar chipped in with a run-a-ball 34 not out to boost the total off their allotted 50 overs at the Harare Sports Club.

Raza proved to be the pick of the bowlers, picking up four wickets for 55 runs off his 10 overs.

Zimbabwe’s run chase never seemed in doubt as Sean Williams hit a 58-ball 91 after openers Craig Ervine and Joylord Gumbie had contributed 50 and 40 runs respectively.

It was left to Raza to strike the winning runs, however, hoisting Logan van Beek over mid-off and into the stands for his eighth six in a spectacular display of power batting that had earlier seen him strike three consecutive sixes off Shariz Ahmad.

“I just wanted to go out there,” said the 37-year-old Pakistan-born all-rounder, who sealed victory with 55 balls remaining.

“The platform was already set, I just wanted to stay humble and respect every ball but it was there, I went for it.

“As long as we win the game, we are happy and we are happy for each other’s performance.”

Group A’s other match saw Nepal, who lost their opener to Zimbabwe, beat the United States by six wickets.

Karachi-born wicketkeeper Shayan Jahangir hit an unbeaten 100 to help the US team reach 207 all out off 49 overs after recovering from being 18 for four wickets.

Sushant Modani chipped in with 42 and Gajanand Singh 26, but the next best score was 12 and seven batsmen failed to make double digits as Karan Khatri Chhetri and Gulsan Jha shared seven wickets between them.

Bhim Sharki hit an unbeaten 77 while Kushal Bhurtel and Dipendra Singh Airee pitched in with 39 runs apiece as Nepal sealed the victory with ease, ending on 211/4 with 42 balls remaining.

It was a second defeat for the Americans after they went down to the West Indies in their opening game.

The action continues Wednesday, with Ireland facing Scotland and Oman taking on the United Arab Emirates in Group B matches at Bulawayo.

Only two of the 10 teams taking part in the three-week qualifier will make the World Cup to be played in India in October and November.