Vusi Sibanda’s maiden T20 international half-century proved enough for Zimbabwe to kick off their ICC World Twenty20 campaign with a 14-run win over Hong Kong.
Sibanda made 59 from 46 balls in a Zimbabwe total of 158 for eight, but Group B’s Test-playing side did not have things all their own way against associate opposition.
Jamie Atkinson made a defiant 53 for Hong Kong, but after a sluggish start to their reply they struggled to get the run-rate back under control and finished on 144 for six.
Ealier Hamilton Masakadza had got Zimbabwe’s innings off to a bright start by thrashing 20 off 13 balls, but was inexplicably run out by Babar Hayat after failing to ground his bat or feet despite both being the right side of the crease when the bails were dislodged.
Tanwir Afzal removed Richmond Mutumbami and Sean Williams in an excellent opening spell, finishing with 2-19 having bowled his four overs straight through.
Hayat struck twice more in the field to run out Sinkandar Raza and Wellington Masakadza, but Malcolm Waller offered some valuable support to Sibanda in between during a stand of 61 for the fifth wicket.
Waller and Sibanda were both caught in the deep during the same Aizaz Khan over, sparking a late slump which also saw Nadeem Ahmed trap Donald Tiripano lbw before Elton Chigumbura smashed an unbeaten 30 from 13 balls – including three late sixes – to take Zimbabwe to a respectable total.
Ryan Campbell, who at 44 became the oldest T20 international debutant, struggled to get Hong Kong off to a flying start as he fell for nine from 19 balls 14 years after making two one-day international appearances for Australia.
Hayat also fell cheaply, trapped lbw by Wellington Masakadza, and although Mark Chapman provided some much-needed impetus he holed out to Raza for 19.
When Atkinson was caught in the deep off Tiripano the game appeared to be up, but Anshuman Rath and Tanvir produced some late fireworks.
Tanvir was dropped at point by Chigumbura off Tinashe Panyagara from the final ball of the 18th over, but with 30 needed from 12 balls the rate was too much and Chatara picked up two late wickets as Afzal finished unbeaten on 31.