Zimbabwe defeats Oman courtesy of a Sean Williams century

Sean Williams shines with a ton in Zimbabwe's first victory

Hosts Zimbabwe pulled off the first match of the Super Six of ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers 2023 against Oman with a 14-run win at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo of Zimbabwe. Sean Williams played an impressive innings of 143 runs in the first innings to help Zimbabwe post its highest total at the venue, 332 runs for the loss of seven wickets.

Oman won the toss and chose to field first at the packed Queens Sports Club of Bulawayo, where the surface looked like favoring the batters. The home team Zimbabwe was off to a great start when openers Joylord Gumbie and captain Craig Ervine held the pitch for a while before the big gun Williams walked in. 

Williams had another mindset for this game. He went to hit an incredible ton with an even better celebration. The left-handed all-rounder went on to score 142 runs off only 103 deliveries with a strike rate of 137.86 before he fell to Fayazz Butt in the last 10 overs and got a standing ovation from the crowd, who were in fact, working like the twelfth man for the home team. 

With Williams ensuring a flow of runs from one end, the 42-run knock by Sikandar Raza contributed heavily to the total. Raza had hit six boundaries in the century partnership between the two batters before he got trapped to Butt in the 39th over. After the dismissal of Williams, Luke Jongwe stepped up with a much-needed quick-fire innings of 43 runs, taking the total to 332 in 50 overs. Butt starred for Oman’s bowling line with four wickets and a comprehensive economy of 7.9 in his maximum quota of overs.

Zimbabwe went wicketless in the first four overs where Oman steadily accumulated 29 runs. It was for Jatinder Singh’s misjudgement that Zimbabweans got their first scalp on the fourth delivery of the next over. 

With 64/1 after 12 overs, Oman was looking to pace up their innings. Zimbabwe struggled with its bowling after seeing Oman get stable in the early overs. With 163/2 in 31 overs, Oman was looking to bag two crucial points with Kashyap Prajapati starring with a beautiful innings of 103 runs off 97 deliveries before falling to Blessing Muzarabani. 

Aqib Ilyas and Ayaan Khan, too, chipped in with 45 and 47 runs, respectively, to give their side a push toward the ultimate total. Aqib Ilyas fell to Raza on the first delivery of the 21st over when Gumbie grabbed one from behind the stumps. 

Ayaan was looking fine with his form when he stretched the innings to the 44th over before falling to Muzarabani. Oman’s middle order was committed on the field to get over the line. The penultimate overs actually stood out for Zimbabwe.

Mohammad Nadeem played an unbeaten innings of 30 runs off just 18 deliveries, with four fours and a six in the last three overs to give a final push. Williams, Raza, and Craig Ervine were all dropped, and there were also other easy runs given away and run-out opportunities squandered.

With 268/6 in 45 overs, Zimbabwe was almost at the edge of their seats. Blessing and Chatara later finished with three wickets each helping Zimbabwe get a close but valuable 14-run victory. Oman finished with 318 runs in their 50 overs and impressed the home crowd as well. Zimbabwe already has a foot in the World Cup, with another win in their next two games sealing their qualification for the mega-event scheduled later this year.