Singapore 181 for 9 (Manpreet 41, David 41, Rohan 39, Burl 3-24, Ngarava 2-48) beat Zimbabwe 177 for 7 (Williams 66, Chakabva 48, Mutombodzi 32, Mahboob 2-20, Prakash 2-34) by 4 runs
When Tony Munyonga cut teenager Sidhant Singh for only a single in the game’s final ball at the Indian Association Ground in Singapore, history was made as the home side beat a Full Member nation for the first time in international cricket.
In a rain-hit 18-overs-a-side contest, Zimbabwe fell four short of the 182-run target despite Sean Williams‘ 66, to lose their first game of the tri-nation series that now sees both teams (and the other side Nepal) tied on two points each.
Singapore’s captain Amjad Mahboob was understandably proud of his team at the presentation: “I just spoke to my boys, ‘Just do your best, just fight until the last ball; just don’t care about the result and just give your best and see the result came in our favour’. Yesterday we lost. Yesterday I didn’t play [against Nepal who won the game by nine wickets]. Just today, I came and I told the boys pre-game that to play to our potential. To not be scared. We are a young side and it’s a great feeling to beat a Test nation. We are very happy.”
It seemed victory was Zimbabwe’s when Williams was at the crease. He had struck five sixes and as many fours in his 35-ball stay, but fell in the 16th over with Zimbabwe still 19 away from the target. Only four down, they were still favourites to cross the line with Ryan Burl and Richmond Mutumbami in the middle, but a double-wicket over from medium-pacer Janak Prakash – which cost only seven runs – turned the scales in Singapore’s favour.
With the big-hitting Burl gone and Zimbabwe’s lower order suddenly exposed, Mahboob brought back fast bowler Sidhant for the game’s final over, and he delivered, conceding only five when Zimbabwe needed ten.
“I’ve been around for a while now and getting myself that close and not finishing the job is very disappointing for me and I take that to heart,” Williams said. “Obviously because I’m a leader of the side and I’ve got to be the one that stands up and finishing the job.”
Zimbabwe’s innings was given an early impetus by their opener Regis Chakabva, who struck 48 in 19 balls. Chakabva was brutal, in particular, on Vinoth Baskaran, taking 18 runs in just one over. That put Zimbabwe ahead of the net run-rate early and with No. 3 Williams for company, they added 41 for the second wicket. Williams switched to big-hitting mode against Tim David, whacking him for 24 runs in the 12th over. And yet, somehow, Singapore stayed in the game with three tight overs that saw both set batsmen dismissed. Thereafter, it was a matter of holding their nerve, which they did, conceding only one boundary in the final two overs to complete a remarkable win.
That Singapore made 181 for 9 was courtesy their wicketkeeper-batsman Manpreet Singh and allrounder David. Both struck 41 each, in 23 and 24 deliveries respectively, to lift Singapore to a challenging total. Singapore had earlier added over 60 in the Powerplay thanks to their openers Rohan Rangarajan (39) and Surendran Chandramohan (23) but Burl’s two wickets in his opening spell pegged Singapore’s progress back in the middle overs.
It was then that David and Manpreet added a quickfire 38 for the fourth wicket, and when the former was dismissed in the 13th over, the latter hit the accelerator. Singapore added 59 off the last five overs, and that late burst, eventually, was the difference between the two sides.
Williams, though, felt the game slipped away from Zimbabwe a little after that. “We lost Tino Mutombodzi there,” Williams said. “We were actually planning on going in that [14th] over. That could’ve been a turning point in the game and then we just lost a clutter of wickets again. Obviously having Timycen [Maruma] injured early on in the game wasn’t great for us. But, look, these things happen. The outfield and the weather conditions happen and we’ve got to deal with that and come up with some better plans and better mental conditions to win the game.”