Zimbabwe – 408-6 in 50 overs (Sean Williams 174, Joylord Gumbie 78, Sikandar Raza 48; Abhishek Paradkar 3/78, Jessy Singh 2/97, Nosthush Kenjige 1/62)
United States of America – 104 all out in 25.1 overs (Abhishek Paradkar 24, Jessy Singh 21, Gajanand Singh 13; Sikandar Raza 2/15, Richard Ngarava 2/25, Ryan Burl 1/18)
Zimbabwe won by 304 runs
A brilliant innings of 174 by Sean Williams off only 101 balls was the highlight of Zimbabwe’s biggest-ever one-day international victory when they crushed the United States of America by 304 runs in their final ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 Group A match at Harare Sports Club on Monday.
With the fates of both teams already decided regarding the Super Six stage of the tournament, the hosts took the opportunity to rest Craig Ervine, Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara, while the wicket-keeper Clive Madande was ruled out with an injured shoulder.
Innocent Kaia came into the side to open the batting with Joylord Gumbie when the USA won the toss and put Zimbabwe in to bat.
In the first seven overs they scored only 17 runs as they took the measure of some accurate bowling from Nosthush Kenjige and Abhishek Paradkar.
Then they began to open up and added another 39 in the next six overs before Kaia (32), in trying to hit a six off Jasdeep Singh, was caught at deep square leg – 56 for one in the 14th over.
This brought in Williams, who got after the bowling right from the start.
The pair put the attack to the sword by adding 160 runs in less than 22 overs, although Gumbie was fortunate on 53 when he seemed to have edged a catch to the wicket-keeper.
He was eventually stumped as he advanced well down the pitch to attack Kanjige after making 78 off 103 balls.
Sikandar Raza came in and the rest of the innings was virtual carnage, as the batters flogged the hapless bowlers mercilessly.
Raza scored 48 off 27 balls, with two sixes and five fours, but his innings was quickly overshadowed by a devastating innings from Ryan Burl, whose 47 came off only 16 balls.
He was caught at deep midwicket after hitting four sixes and three fours, playing the stroke that would not only have brought him the record for a Zimbabwean in an ODI, but also have placed him equal second in the all-time records, behind only the 16-ball record held by AB de Villiers of South Africa.
All this time Williams was going from strength to strength at the other end, hitting powerfully at virtually every ball.
He reached his fifty off 33 balls and his century off 65, and at one stage a double-century looked a real possibility for him, as did a 400 total for Zimbabwe.
But Williams didn’t get quite enough of the bowling, and was eventually caught just inside the long-off boundary as he attempted another six, having made a magnificent 174 off only 101 balls, with five sixes and 21 fours – this was his highest score in ODIs.
The 400 total was reached in the final over, thanks to some powerful blows from Tadiwanashe Marumani, making his tournament début and making 18 not out off six deliveries.
Zimbabwe finished on 408 for six wickets, far beyond their previous record of 351 for seven, scored against Kenya at Mombasa in 2008/09.
Paradkar was the most successful American bowler, taking three wickets for 78 in nine overs.
Unfortunately, the United States, in a hopeless situation, were unable to put up much of a fight.
Richard Ngarava took the first two wickets in his first three overs, and three men were out for 16.
Aaron Jones with eight and Gajanand Singh with 13 took the score to 44, but then three more wickets fell for the addition of a single, two of them to run-outs within three balls.
This left the score at 45 for six after 11 overs.
Paradkar with 24 and Jasdeep Singh with 21 then showed some resistance, but the ninth wicket fell at 97.
Kenjige then saved some face for his team with a boundary to take the score past 100, but there followed a third run-out to end the innings at 104 — 70 runs fewer than Williams had scored off his own bat.
The other seven wickets were shared among the five bowlers used, with Ngarava taking two for 25 and Raza two for 15.
Zimbabwe’s victory by 304 runs is not only the second biggest win by runs in men’s ODI cricket quite puts in the shade their previous biggest margin of victory in the format, which was by 202 runs against Kenya in Bangladesh in 1999, a triangular series.
They also became the first side to bring up a score of 400-plus in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier, having bettered their previous biggest total of 380 against Nepal in 2018.
Also, Zimbabwe have become the seventh country in history to record a score of over 400, joining the elite list of India, Australia, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.