Sikan­dar Raza ton gives Zim­babwe hope


Sikan­dar Raza Butt´s un­beaten cen­tury hauled Zim­babwe out of trou­ble and gave them a fight­ing chance in the sec­ond one-day in­ter­na­tional against New Zealand at Harare Sports Club on Tues­day.

Raza ar­rived at the crease with Zim­babwe strug­gling on 68 for five, and hit 100 not out from 95 balls to guide the hosts to 235 for nine.

With early morn­ing starts at Harare Sports Club, con­di­tions gen­er­ally favour the side bowl­ing first and so it was a sur­prise when Zim­babwe cap­tain El­ton Chigum­bura de­cided to have a bat. The only two teams to do so at the venue in the past three years - Pak­istan in 2013 and Aus­tralia in 2014 - both suf­fered shock defeats at the hands of Zim­babwe.

The de­ci­sion ap­peared to have back­fired when the hosts lost their top five in­side the first 18 overs, with Grant El­liott us­ing the swing on of­fer to dis­miss Craig Ervine and Chigum­bura, and legspin­ner Ish Sodhi pick­ing up his first two wick­ets in ODI cricket.

Raza helped to re­build the in­nings in a 60-run stand for the sixth wicket with Sean Wil­liams, but when Wil­liams was bril­liantly run out by Martin Gup­till and Zim­babwe slumped to 146 for eight, a re­spectable to­tal ap­peared un­likely.

Yet Raza found sup­port in Ti­nashe Panyan­gara, who made 33, and also en­joyed some for­tune when he was dropped on 67. The pair added 89 runs for the ninth wicket, with Raza reach­ing his third ODI hun­dred off the penul­ti­mate de­liv­ery of the in­nings.

Sodhi fin­ished with New Zealand´s best fig­ures in just his sec­ond ODI, tak­ing 3 for 38 in his 10 overs. Zim­babwe lead the three-match se­ries 1-0 af­ter win­ning Sun­day´s opener by seven wick­ets.

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