Trio stars with bat as Zimbabwe A defeat Nepal in first T20
Nepal – 181-5 in 20 overs (Mohammad Aadil Alam 47*, Kushal Bhurtel 46, Rohit Paudel 36; Brandon Mavuta 1/29, Brad Evans 1/39, Luke Jongwe 1/42)
Zimbabwe A – 182-4 in 18.5 overs (Tadiwanashe Marumani 56, Tony Munyonga 50, Innocent Kaia 30; Basir Ahamad 2/22, Karan KC 1/35, Sandeep Lamichhane 1/50)
Zimbabwe A won by six wickets
Brilliant batting by Zimbabwe A’s top three – Innocent Kaia, Tadiwanashe Marumani and Tony Munyonga – gave the side a fine six-wicket victory over Nepal when set a challenging target by their opponents in the first of three unofficial T20 international matches at Kirtipur on Sunday.
Munyonga, captaining Zimbabwe A for the first time, put Nepal in to bat on winning the toss, but soon found that the home team is equipped with some very powerful hitters who flourished on the small ground.
Luke Jongwe took the first wicket, having Aasif Sheikh caught at the wicket by Clive Madande for nine in the fifth over, with the score at 27.
The other opening batter, Kushal Bhurtel, hit a powerful 46 off 31 balls, complete with eight fours, before Brandon Mavuta had him caught by Jongwe in the 11th over, with the score now 84 for two wickets.
Rohit Paudel (36 off 26 balls) and Dipendra Singh Airee (28 off only 13 balls) then shared a partnership of 39 off only 21 balls.
Both fell in quick succession, but the rest of the innings was dominated by Mohammad Aadil Alam, who smashed his way to 47 not out off 27 balls at the death, with three sixes and four fours.
The final total off 20 overs was a daunting 181 for five wickets.
The only bowler to achieve much respect was Victor Nyauchi, who conceded only 19 runs off his four overs, but ironically he was the only bowler used who did not take a wicket.
Brad Evans, Jongwe, Mavuta and John Masara all took a wicket each but were much more expensive.
In order to win, the Zimbabweans would have to launch a successful assault on the bowling virtually from the first ball of their innings, and this is what they did.
Innocent Kaia set the scene with two fours off the opening over, and with Marumani continued to hit at virtually everything with remarkable success.
They put on 73 for the first wicket until in the ninth over Kaia was out lbw to the Nepali captain, Sandeep Lamichhane, for a brilliant 47, scored off 30 balls with nine fours.
It was Munyonga himself who took advantage of this start with a stunning attacking innings.
Hitting brilliantly, he reached 50 off only 21 balls, before being out to a return catch two balls later when the score was 145 for two in the 15th over.
His dazzling innings had seven sixes.
Madande was out for eight, but Marumani reached his own fifty before he was eventually caught for 56 off 41 balls, an impressive knock that included three sixes and three fours.
After such fine batting, Kudzai Maunze (eight not out) and Roy Kaia (six not out) were left with an easy task to take Zimbabwe A home to victory with seven balls to spare in the end.
The left-arm spinner Basir Ahamad came out the best of the Nepali bowlers with two wickets for 22 runs off 3.5 overs.