Zimbabwe claimed a tense 14-run win over Oman on Thursday to start the Super Six stage of the World Cup Qualifier on a high, after Sean Williams’ third hundred of the event.
The African side racked up 332 for seven from their 50 overs batting first in Bulawayo before a brave chase from Oman came up just short on 318 for nine.
The hosts moved top of the table after adding to the two wins, over the West Indies and the Netherlands, they carried over from the group stage.
“When I first saw the wicket, I thought 270 would be a very good score,” said Williams. “Thankfully everyone chipped in there and we got up to that total.”
Zimbabwe are bidding to qualify for the global one-day showpiece following an eight-year absence after missing out on the 2019 edition in England and Wales.
The top two sides in the Super Six standings will secure places at the World Cup.
Oman are all but out of contention in the race to reach the main tournament to be held in India from October 5 until November 19.
The underdogs, who started the match on zero points in the Super Six, pushed Zimbabwe all the way in a dramatic chase.
Opener Kashyap Prajapati crashed 103 off 97 balls to help them stay within touching distance.
Blessing Muzarabani’s three wickets appeared to have put Zimbabwe on the brink of victory, helped by some brilliant fielding including a remarkable catch by Luke Jongwe as he juggled the ball on the boundary while repeatedly hopping over the rope.
But some late blows from the lower order left a manageable 39 needed from the final 17 balls when Fayyaz Butt was trapped lbw by Tendai Chatara.
Captain Zeeshan Maqsood hobbled back out to join Mohammad Nadeem at the crease having earlier retired injured.
Richard Ngarava’s excellent penultimate over which conceded just two runs and a bye left Oman with too much to do as Maqsood fell to Chatara from the final ball.
Nadeem ended 30 not out from 18 balls as Muzarabani finished with 3-57 from nine overs and Chatara with 3-73 from eight.
Earlier, Williams’ wonderful 142 off 103 deliveries, featuring 14 fours and three sixes, provided the backbone of Zimbabwe’s innings.
Sikandar Raza added 42 and Jongwe some late impetus with a 28-ball 43 not out.
Zimbabwe, depending on other results, could secure a place in India when they face Sri Lanka on Sunday.
Oman are next in action the following day against the Netherlands.