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Ervine, Gumbie centuries power Zimbabwe Select to huge victory

Pakistan Shaheens – 295-9 in 50 overs (Omair Yousuf 153, Kamran Ghulam 55, Haseebullah Khan 22; Brad Evans 5/62, Wellington Masakadza 2/45, Blessing Muzarabani 1/51)

Zimbabwe Select – 299-3 in 47.3 overs (Craig Ervine 161, Joylord Gumbie 111, Wessly Madhevere 9*; Shahnawaz Dahani 2/60, Aamer Jamal 1/47)

Zimbabwe Select won by seven wickets

There was a magnificent match at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday when brilliant centuries from Craig Ervine and Joylord Gumbie powered the Zimbabwe Select team to a seven-wicket victory over Pakistan Shaheens in their fourth one-day match.

The pair almost set a new Zimbabwean record as they put on 277 for the second wicket. For the first time in the series the home side won the toss and put the Pakistanis in to bat first.

Muhammad Hurraira (17) and Haseebullah Khan (22) made a fair start, scoring 29 together in seven overs before Blessing Muzarabani bowled out the dangerous Hurraira.

However, that only brought in an even more prolific opponent in Yousuf, and he was to dominate virtually the rest of the innings. When Abdul Bangalzai followed without scoring, the score was 55 for three in the 14th over and the hosts were on top.

But this started to change, as Kamran Ghulam joined Yousuf and the pair began to turn the match in their favour. It was more than 25 further overs before the Zimbabweans broke through again, as this stand added 139 for the fourth wicket at almost a run a ball.

Having reached his fifty, Ghulam drove Wellington Masakadza hard and straight for a lofted four, but when he tried it again off the next delivery, the cunning bowler made him sky a catch and he departed for 55 off 79 balls.

Yousuf continued his assault, mastering all the bowlers, while his remaining partners came and went quite cheaply, most of them dismissed while hitting out for quick runs.

His best partnership was 58 for the seventh wicket in only 4.2 overs with Qasim Akram, who made 16.

Akram was caught off Brad Evans in the 49th over, which was a good one for the Zimbabwe Select side, as the new man Aamer Jamal was caught off the second delivery.

After a single was scored, Evans then finally removed Yousuf himself – the batter backed away to give himself room to slash on the off side, but a good straight delivery knocked back his off stump.

Yousuf had scored a magnificent 153 off only 126 deliveries, with four sixes and 14 fours.

The last pair managed to scramble another 11 runs without dismissal before the innings closed at the daunting total of 295 for nine wickets, more than half of which had been scored by one man.

Evans finished with a five-wicket haul that cost him 62 runs, while the most economical bowler was Masakadza who took two for 45 in his 10 overs.

When the Zimbabweans batted they quickly lost Tadiwanashe Marumani, who was caught off Shahnawaz Dahani in the second over after scoring just one boundary.

Gumbie and Ervine then set themselves to build a strong foundation as a launching pad for their very difficult victory bid. They did a fine job as they kept the score ticking along with quick runs, while taking boundaries off any loose deliveries, and they were still together, on the verge of their fifties, when the hundred went up in the 20th over.

Both were on 49, and Gumbie reached his fifty first off 63 balls, while Ervine followed later in the same over off 65 balls. Then Ervine decided it was time to hit out, and he began to assault the bowling with good success, leaving Gumbie behind.

In complete command, he raced to his century off 99 balls, and celebrated by hitting Hussain Talat for four fours in an over. Gumbie now speeded up too and his century came off 112 balls, while Ervine raced on towards 150.

It was just a pity that this magnificent win could not have been achieved in the grand manner, with both batters unbeaten, but just 11 runs short of victory Ervine tried to glance a ball from Aamer Jamal down the leg side and was given out caught at the wicket.

His score was 161, which he made off 144 balls, hitting three sixes and 19 fours. It was good to see Jamal warmly congratulating Ervine as he walked off, a fine piece of sportsmanship on the field.

The second-wicket partnership was worth 277 runs, which was only two runs short of the Zimbabwean List A partnership record, an unbroken 279 by Andy and Grant Flower for the third wicket for Mashonaland against Midlands at Kwekwe in 2002/03.

From the next ball he faced, Gumbie flicked Dahani down towards third man, only to be brilliantly caught by Jamal there – his 111 took 124 balls and included 10 fours. With five overs left, Wessly Madhevere and Milton Shumba played carefully before Madhevere top-edged an attempted big hit over the keeper’s head for four to win the match with 2.3 overs to spare.

Dahani was the best of the Pakistani bowlers, taking two wickets for 60 runs.  The Zimbabweans now take an unbeatable three-one lead in the six-match series. – ZC