A superb knock of 66 not out off just 29 balls from Milton Shumba saw Zimbabwe home to a six wicket win in the third match of the Wolf777 T20 Series versus Scotland at The Grange on Sunday, giving the visitors a 2-1 triumph overall.
Shumba was named Player of the Match and Player of the Series and while Scotland were disappointed not to win the final match, head coach Shane Burger believes his squad can take a lot out of the last few days.
They now head off to Oman this coming week for Cricket World Cup League Two matches against the hosts and Papua New Guinea.
After that is the T20 World Cup in Oman and the UAE and Burger said: “We are obviously disappointed with the way this series has ended, we batted really well to give us a chance and then the bowling and the fielding wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be.
“Credit to Milton Shumba, he played a brilliant innings and won the game for them, but for us we know the opportunity was there to win a series and that will hurt for a few days.
“However, we take away plenty of positives from these three games, at times we have shown that our batting, bowling and fielding can fire and we just have to put the three parts together going forward when we are involved in pressure T20 games which we will be playing at the upcoming World Cup.”
After a brief rain shower just before the match was due to start, Scotland won the toss and skipper Kyle Coetzer decided to have a bat.
Having slipped to 17-3 before winning game one on Wednesday and 16-4 on the way to losing game two on Friday, the home side’s top order were looking to give their team a better start this time around.
They got off to a solid start before Coetzer fell for six off the final ball of the fourth over, being caught behind by wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva off the bowling of Richard Ngarava.
That left Scotland 18-1 before George Munsey and Oli Hairs came together and put on 54 in quick time for the second wicket.
In truth, most of the big hitting was being done by Munsey who was in dangerous form, hitting a number of fours and sixes as he reached his half century off just 28 ball.
Hairs played second fiddle and was caught behind for eight off the bowling of Luke Jongwe in the ninth over.
Four balls later Munsey also went for a hard-hitting 54 off just 30 balls when he was caught by Zimbabwe skipper Craig Ervine.
The left hander, who passed the 1,000 T20 international runs during his knock, had given his side a great platform and Richie Berrington and Calum MacLeod took things on.
The experienced duo put together a measured 70 run partnership before Berrington, who has now made over 3,000 runs at international level in this format of the game, was out for 44 off the last ball of the 19th over.
That brought Michael Leask to the crease and there was a very eventful last over.
30 runs came off it with, amongst other things, MacLeod hitting a six, Leask hitting two sixes and Ngarava bowling two no balls.
That propelled Scotland up to 176-4 from their 20 overs, MacLeod finishing on 39 not out from 29 balls and Leask 17 not out off just five balls.
Zimbabwe’s openers started their innings with real intent and Chakabva and Ervine put on 60 for the first wicket before spinner Leask bowled the former for 26.
Two balls later seamer Ali Evans then bowled Ervine for 25 and suddenly the visitors were 60-2.
It got even better in the 10th over when Leask bowled Sean Williams and, with 60 balls remaining, Zimbabwe had seven wickets left and needed another 107 runs to win.
Wessley Madhevere was on 30 not out and Milton Shumba 32 not out by the time that 16 overs had been bowled and the visitors needed 56 runs to win from 24 balls.
Then Shumba really went for it, hitting three sixes off the first three balls of the 17th over bowled by Evans.
He then got a single before Madhevere too hit a six and, in total, 25 came off the over.
The put Zimbabwe in with a great chance and when they hit 14 off Safyaan Sharif in the 18th over they needed 17 runs from the final two overs.
Off the first ball of the 19th over smart work from Sharif and wicketkeeper Matthew Cross saw Madhevere run out for 43, but Shumba and new man Ryan Burl kept their cool.
Their side won by six wickets with five balls remaining, Burl hitting the winning runs with a four off Sharif from the first ball of the last over with Shumba the star.