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Sikandar Raza lifts Zimbabwe to crush Netherlands in CWC Qualifier

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HARARE: Sikandar Raza followed up his sensational four-for with a record century and powered Zimbabwe to thrash Netherlands by six wickets in the Cricket World Cup (CWC) Qualifier.

Sikandar Raza was the hero of Zimbabwe’s dominant six-wicket victory over the Netherlands as the home side chased down a mammoth 316-run target in just the 41st over for the loss of four wickets.

Earlier, Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine sent the Netherlands into bat first after the coin flipped in his favour.

The Netherlands had apparently made him pay for his decision to field first as the Dutch side piled up a massive 315/6 total on the scoreboard with openers Vikramjit Singh and Max O’Dowd and skipper Scott Edwards leading the charge with half-centuries.

Dutch batters annihilated Zimbabwe bowlers in the first innings as most of them went for plenty but Sikandar Raza remained the exception as he returned with sensational figures of 4/55 in his 10 overs to bar the opposition from amassing a more daunting total.

The Netherlands opener Singh and O’Dowd scripted a promising start to their side as the paid added 120 runs for the first wicket before the latter was castled by Sikandar Raza in the 21st over.

O’Dowd scored 59 off 67 deliveries and hit 10 boundaries.

Raza then struck again in his next over to get rid of Wesley Barresi, who could score just four.

Having dealt with Raza’s quick twin strikes, Singh received liable support of his skipper Edwards and the pair stitched a vital 106-run partnership for the third wicket.

The pair appeared to have settled down and Singh moved 12 runs within his maiden ODI century, Raza struck again to crush his century hopes. He scored 88 off 111 deliveries with the help of nine boundaries.

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Following his dismissal, the Netherlands two more wickets in quick successions as Bas de Leede and Teja Nidamanuru perished cheaply.

Skipper Edwards then put on a vital 59-run partnership with Saqib Zulfiqar, who carried his bat all the way through and remained unbeaten on a 31-ball 34.

Edwards smashed nine boundaries on his way to a 72-ball 83.

Set to chase a massive 316-run target, Sikandar Raza notched up the fastest century for Zimbabwe and made it an easy affair for his side.

He thwacked six boundaries and eight sixes on his way to top-score for Zimbabwe with a 54-ball 102.

Raza’s fireworks outshined Sean Williams’ magnificent 91-run knock which featured 10 boundaries and two sixes.

In another CWC Qualifier match, spirited Nepal drew alike outcomes as they blew away the United States of America (USA) by six wickets and 42 balls to spare.

Put into bat first in the sixth match of the CWC Qualifier, the USA could only raise 207 before bundling out in 49 overs despite a brisk century by Shayan Jahangir.

The wicketkeeper batter smashed 10 boundaries and three sixes on his way to a 79-ball 100 and remained not out as he ran out of partners.

Besides him, Sushant Modani (42) was the notable run-getter for the side while the rest failed in their second match of the CWC Qualifier campaign.

Karan KC led the bowling attack for Nepal with 4/43, followed by Gulshan Jha’s 3/52 and Dipendra Singh Airee’s 2/15.

Set to chase 208 to taste their first triumph in the ongoing CWC Qualifier, Nepal batters put on a collective effort to complete the pursuit in 43 overs.

Bhim Sharki played the anchoring role in Nepal’s calculated pursuit with a sensible 77 off 114 deliveries with the help of seven boundaries and a six and top-scored for his side.

Besides him, opening batter Kushal Bhurtel and Dipendra Singh Airee were the other notable contributors with 39 each.

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