World T20: Sibanda half-century leads Zimbabwe to opening victory over Hong Kong

In the opening match of the 2016 World T20 tournament, Zimbabwe beat Hong Kong by 14 runs in Nagpur

World T20: Sibanda half-century leads Zimbabwe to opening victory over Hong Kong
Vusi Sibanda scored a half-century in Zimbabwe's win over Hong Kong in the World T20 (Image via: Cricinfo, AFP)

Zimbabwe claimed victory in the opening match of the 2016 World Twenty20 in India, after beating Hong Kong by 14 runs in Nagpur

Vusi Sibanda's knock of 59 was the mainstay during Zimbabwe's innings of 158-8, before Donald Tiripano and Tendai Chatara took two wickets apiece in Hong Kong's reply which fell 15 runs short.

The result leaves Hong Kong with a big task on their hands to qualify for the main tournament, whilst Zimbabwe have set themselves up for two huge encounters against Afghanistan and Scotland later in the week.  

Zimbabwe struggle early on after being asked to bat

After losing the toss and being inserted by Hong Kong skipper Tanwir Afzal, Zimbabwe eventually posted 158 from their 20 overs thanks mostly to the batting of Sibanda and Elton Chigumbura

It was Sibanda's opening partner Hamilton Masakadza who got the team off to a bit of a flyer, hitting four boundaries in his 13 deliveries at the crease. Masakadza's innings came to an end in embarrassing fashion though, when he was run out for 20, after failing to ground anything behind the crease at the non-strikers end after completing an easy single. 

Sibanda strikes the ball through the leg-side in his knock of 59 (image via: Cricinfo - ICC)

Sibanda then took over from his partner, hitting a couple of boundaries, before Hong Kong picked up their second wicket, with Richmond Mutumbami falling for a duck after slapping Tanwir straight to Nadeem Ahmed at long-on. 

Another couple of wickets fell in the form of Sean Williams (12) and Sikandar Raza (3), with the latter running himself out after attemping an unlikely second run. 

Chigbumbura's big hitting helps Chevrons post 158 

Those wickets saw Malcolm Waller come to the crease, and he put on a partnership of 61 with Sibanda which helped Zimbabwe recover from their early losses. Waller wasn't quick by any means, eventually falling for 26 from 29 deliveries off the bowling of Aizaz Khan to leave his side at 123-5 with around four overs remaining. 

The Waller wicket was the start of a mini-collapse for the Africans, who lost Sibanda for a well-made 59, which was soon followed by the fall of Donald Tiripano who was LBW to Nadeem for a second-ball duck. 

Just as it looked as though Zimbabwe's innings was crumbling, Elton Chigumbura took over, launching three maximums in the final couple of overs to end unbeaten on 30 from just 13 deliveries. Chigumbura's innings added much needed impetus, especially due to the fact that his teammates continued to lose their heads at the other end, with Wellington Masakadza becoming Babar Hayat's third run-out victim of the innings when he departed for just two. 

The eventual total of 158-8 would not not have been likely without the partnership of Waller and Sibanda or for Chigumbura's lusty blows late on, but it gave Zimbabwe a more than competitive total to defend. 

Hong Kong lose early wickets which stalls run rate

In their reply, Hong Kong didn't get off to a great start, losing both Ryan Campbell and Hayat inside the first ten overs, whilst also struggling to find the boundary on many ocassions. 

Tight bowling from Tiripano and Tendai Chatara piled the pressure onto the batsmen, who were really struggling to time the ball well on a slow pitch. 

The first wicket came in the fifth over of the innings, when 44-year-old Campbell attempted a slog over mid-on, only for Hamilton Masakadza to make the early catch off the bowling of Chatara. Campbell's innings of nine from 19 balls was scratchy at best, and his wicket left Hong Kong in a spot of bother at 15-1. 

Hayat was next to come-and-go for just nine after he was plum LBW off the bowling of Wellington Masakdaza to leave Hong Kong 43-2 in the ninth over, and well behind the required run-rate.

Atkinson's 53 in vain as Hong Kong fall 15 short of target

Mark Chapman offered hope in the middle overs with some clean striking, before he fell for 19 to Raza, just as it looked as though he was going to turn the match in Hong Kong's favour. 

It was then over to the set batsman, Jamie Atkinson who started to swing his arms as he went in search of quick runs, and it paid off with a couple of big shots going over the rope for six. The opener passed 50 after hitting his sixth boundary, but didn't last much longer after being caught well by Williams for 53 off the bowling of Tiripano, who picked up his second wicket of the innings.

With 39 needed off the last three overs, the game was still not wrapped-up for Zimbabwe, but then Chatara took over, picking up two wickets in two balls to all but end Hong Kong's hopes of victory.Firstly Anshuman Rath was caught for 13 by Tiripano, with Nizakat Khan following next ball for a golden duck.  

The tail did all they could to get to the winning total, with the skipper Tanwir finishing 31 not out, but it wasn't to be as Zimbabwe prevailed by 14 runs to go top of Group B.