On the much-awaited inaugural day of the Zim Cyber City Zim Afro T10 tournament, the energy at the Harare Sports Club was palpable as the Bulawayo Braves stormed onto the field, eager to showcase their prowess. Their opponent, the Harare Hurricanes, was a formidable force, but the Braves were determined to make their mark.

Opting to bat first, the Bulawayo Braves displayed their intent from the outset. Ben McDermott launched a dazzling assault on the bowlers, scoring a quickfire 18 runs, setting the tone for an explosive innings. However, McDermott’s partnership with Kobe Herft came to an abrupt end within the first three overs.

Sikandar Raza
Bulawayo Braves’ Sikandar Raza produced a determined 62 in their win against Harare Hurricanes. Photos by Saikat Das / ACEIMAGES for Zim Afro T10

As the early wickets fell, all eyes turned to the local hero, Sikandar Raza, the Braves’ captain. With a firm determination, Raza stepped up to the challenge, taking the center stage. On the other end, Tinotenda Maposa of the Harare Hurricanes was causing mayhem with his lethal bowling, dismissing Ashton Turner and Ryan Burl in quick succession. The Braves found themselves at 78/7 after seven overs, with Raza shouldering the responsibility to steady the ship.

Raza’s blade danced like a maestro, sending the ball racing to the boundaries with finesse. But the Zimbabwean star cricketer couldn’t do it all alone, and the rest of the batters struggled to provide significant support. Taskin Ahmed managed a brief partnership of 26 runs with Raza but eventually fell, leaving Raza to carry the burden.

Despite the lack of support, Raza refused to bow down. His innings was nothing short of spectacular, smashing five sixes and four boundaries, propelling the Braves to a respectable total of 128/9 in their allotted 10 overs. The captain remained unbeaten at 62, a testament to his exceptional skill and determination.

The Harare Hurricanes’ response was met with early setbacks. Taskin Ahmed’s brilliant opening over sent the experienced Indian batter, Robin Uthappa, back to the pavilion without scoring. Donovan Ferreira followed soon after, being clean bowled by the fiery Tymal Mills. The former England captain, Eoin Morgan, took charge of the innings, attempting to steady the ship.

But the Braves had their plans well in place. Tight and disciplined bowling kept the Hurricanes’ scoring rate in check. As the innings progressed, the pressure mounted on the batting side. Eoin Morgan, attempting to break free, ended up finding the third man fielder’s safe hands.

Mohammad Nabi fought valiantly but was dismissed for 22 runs, adding to the Hurricanes’ woes. The Braves’ bowlers continued to apply the squeeze, making run-scoring a difficult task. Irfan Pathan tried to rally the team, pushing them past the 50-run mark in the 7th over. However, a wicket at the other end, courtesy of Patrick Dooley, maintained the Braves’ dominance.

Sikandar Raza wasn’t done making an impact. The captain decided to showcase his bowling skills too, claiming the wickets of Pathan and Tashinga Musekiwa in consecutive deliveries, leaving the Hurricanes reeling.

With the match coming down to the wire, Luke Jongwe attempted to salvage the situation with some big hits. But his valiant efforts were not enough, as he was dismissed in the final over, leaving the Hurricanes short of the target.

Sikandar Raza
Sikandar Raza returned with the ball to pick up 3 for 12.

In the end, the Bulawayo Braves emerged victorious, triumphing over the Harare Hurricanes by a margin of 50 runs. The stadium erupted in cheers, celebrating the incredible display of cricketing talent. The Bulawayo Braves’ captain, Sikandar Raza, was undoubtedly the day’s hero, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of the local crowd and setting the stage for an exhilarating tournament ahead.

Brief Scores: Bulawayo Braves – 128/9 (Sikandar Raza – 62*, Ben McDermott 18; Brandon Mavuta – 3/25, Nandre Burger – 2/26) defeated the Harare Hurricanes – 79/9 (Mohammad Nabi – 22, Luke Jongwe – 20, Sikandar Raza – 3/12, Taskin Ahmed – 1/7)