Zimbabwe continued their winning streak in the ICC ODI World Cup Qualifier 2023, securing a comprehensive victory over the Netherlands by six wickets at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday, June 20. The standout performer, Sikandar Raza, displayed a remarkable all-round performance, smashing an unbeaten 102* off just 54 deliveries and claiming four wickets.

In their debut qualifier match, the Netherlands set a respectable total of 315/6 after opting to bat first. Vikramjit Singh led the scoring with 88 runs off 111 balls, supported by Max O’Dowd’s impressive knock of 59. However, Raza provided Zimbabwe with a breakthrough in the 21st over by dismissing both openers.

The Netherlands’ captain, Scott Edwards, also made a valuable contribution with a quickfire 83 off 72 balls, ensuring his team surpassed the 300-run mark. Raza was the standout bowler for Zimbabwe, finishing with figures of 4/55. Despite the challenge, Zimbabwe responded strongly during their chase. Captain Craig Ervine set the tone with a solid 50 off 48 deliveries, while veteran Sean Williams, who had scored a century against Nepal in their previous match, added 91 runs off just 58 balls.

Nevertheless, it was Raza who stole the show with his remarkable unbeaten century, smashing six fours and eight sixes at a striking rate of 188.88. His outstanding performance helped Zimbabwe achieve the target with six wickets and 55 balls to spare, marking the fastest international hundred by a Zimbabwean cricketer and Raza’s seventh ODI century.

In another match on the same day, Nepal secured a comfortable six-wicket victory over the USA, clinching their first win in the Qualifier tournament. After losing four early wickets and struggling at 18 runs, the USA managed to post a fighting total of 207 while batting first at Takashinga Sports Club. Shayan Jahangir, a 28-year-old batter born in Pakistan, notched his maiden international century, scoring an unbeaten 100 off 79 balls for the USA. Nepal’s pacer Karan KC stood out with impressive figures of four for 33.

Nepal faced a challenging start to their innings but were guided by Bhim Shakti’s unbeaten 77 off 114 deliveries. The star all-rounder Dipendra Singh Airee contributed crucial unbeaten 39 runs to help Nepal achieve the target in 43 overs. With this win, Zimbabwe claimed the top spot in Group A, having won both of their opening matches convincingly. Nepal, with their maiden victory, climbed to the third position in the group standings.

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