Hobart: Craig Ervine played a captain's knock of 58 off 54 balls while Sikandar Raza smacked a cameo of 40 as Zimbabwe beat Scotland by five wickets in the first round of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup at the Bellerive Oval to end up as winners of Group B and clinch the final Super 12 spot.
After Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava picked up two wickets each in a clinical bowling performance to restrict Scotland to a paltry total of 132/6 in 20 overs, Zimbabwe were in trouble at 42/3 in eight overs.
But Ervine, who hit his sixth T20I fifty, and Raza shared a 64-run stand off 43 balls, followed by Milton Shumba and Ryan Burl applying finishing touches for Zimbabwe to chase down the total with nine balls to spare.
As Group B toppers, Zimbabwe will now enter Group 2 of Super 12 alongside India, Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and the Netherlands for the very first time. Ireland will now move towards Group 1 alongside defending champions Australia, Afghanistan, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka as the second-best side from Group B.
Chasing 133, Zimbabwe suffered huge blows up front as Regis Chakabva and Wesley Madhevere were sent packing within the first two overs by Brad Wheal and Josh Davey. Sean Williams fell cheaply as well, holing out to deep square leg off Michael Leask.
Ervine, who had played some delightful drives and switch hit till then, and Raza took their time to calm down the proceedings. Raza then went for the attack by piercing the gap between cover and long-off off Safyaan Sharif in the 11th over.
Raza was more aggressive against the Scotland spinners, using his bottom hand and powerful hands to hit a couple of sixes and a four off them while Ervine played the anchor role and got a well-deserved fifty as well.
Raza fell after a crucial cameo of 40, giving a faint edge behind on a pull off Davey and two overs later, Ervine mistimed a lofted drive to running mid-off. But by then, the match was in Zimbabwe's favour and Burl finished off the chase with a four hammered over leaping mid-on to seal their Super 12 spot.
Earlier, Scotland were unable to justify their captain Richie Berrington's decision to bat first as none of the batters looked fluent, including their top-scorer George Munsey, who made 54 off 51 balls with seven fours, as Zimbabwe's bowlers combined well to keep them in check throughout the innings.
Moreover, Zimbabwe bowlers resorted to straight lines and with spinners keeping things tight, didn't concede a single six in the innings, the first time an instance like this was recorded in the ongoing T20 World Cup.
Scotland lost their openers Michael Jones and Matthew Cross in the first 4.1 overs. Munsey, Berrington and Calum MacLeod tried their best to get the Scotland innings back on track, but they never got the momentum and acceleration needed to advance towards a big total.
Munsey and Berrington put on a 40-run stand between themselves followed by a 34-run partnership between him and MacLeod. Munsey held the innings together, but was not as effective as Scotland would have thought. After being at 33 runs off his first 22 balls, Munsey scored only 21 runs off his next 29 balls.
The partnerships for Scotland didn't come at a fast scoring rate as Zimbabwe didn't let them go away. Also, they feel the need of using their other bowling options like Burl and Luke Jongwe apart from the fielding being great as well to march to Super 12.