Richie Berrington stars as Scotland defeat Zimbabwe on return to home soil
Player of the match Richie Berrington was the star with the bat, but he heaped praise on Scotland’s bowlers and fielders as they defended 141-6 to defeat Zimbabwe by seven runs in the first match of the Wolf777 T20 Series at The Grange today.
Scotland’s only international matches since late 2019 were a couple of ODIs away to the Netherlands earlier this summer, so this three match series against the Zimbabweans is key ahead of the T20 World Cup in Oman and the UAE starting next month.
Batting first, early on Scotland were in trouble at 17-3, but a brilliant 82 not out off 61 balls from 34-year-old Berrington helped haul them up to 141-6 from their 20 overs and a competitive, if unspectacular, total.
The bowlers and fielders then came to the party - Safyaan Sharif leading the way with 4-24 a run out and a catch - as Zimbabwe ended up short on 134-9.
“I thought the bowling and fielding today was excellent, the boys really did a great job and never allowed Zimbabwe’s batters to settle,” Berrington said.
“We know that we have a varied bowling attack that can cause other teams’ problems and when Saffy took a wicket with the first ball of their innings it really set the tone.
“Everyone else then backed him up and it is great to get a win on home soil.
“With the bat I just tried to play my normal game and put together a couple of partnerships and we felt that 141 was a decent total - and so it proved.”
In the first innings Scotland were stuttering when wicketkeeper Matthew Cross fell to leave them on 75-5.
Berrington was the one batter standing firm though and the Clydesdale man, who is ranked number three in the world in terms of T20 all-rounders, reached his half century in the 14th over.
The team’s 100 came up in the 16th over and by the end of the innings some well-placed boundaries and clever running from Berrington saw him finish up on 82 not out.
Sharif gave his side the perfect start to the Zimbabwe reply, a cracking delivery having Wessley Madhevere caught behind by Cross off the first ball of the innings.
The same bowler then had Tadiwanashe Marumani caught by Ali Evans in the third over.
As the halfway point of the Zimbabwe innings approached, Scotland needed a third wicket and spinner Mark Watt delivered.
He broke a 43-run partnership between wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva and skipper Craig Ervine, trapping the former LBW for 17, as the visitors reached 57-3 after 10 overs.
Ervine was then caught by George Munsey off the bowling of Oli Hairs for 24 and Scotland had Zimbabwe in a bit of bother at 58-4.
Williams and Milton Shumba then came together and put together an important partnership, taking their side up to 95-4 after 15 overs and then taking 14 off the 16th bowled by Michael Leask.
In the next over Evans got the crucial scalp of Williams, caught by Leask in the deep for 28, and Zimbabwe were 112-5 still needing 30 runs to win.
They needed 20 off the last 14 balls, but bowlers Sharif and Chris Sole kept their cool and despite Shumba finishing on 45 not out off 30 balls his side could not get over the line.
The two sides meet on Friday in the second match.