A Steven Taylor hundred fired USA to a win over Jersey as the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier B got off to a thrilling start in Bulawayo.
Taylor’s unbeaten 101 came off just 55 balls and included 16 boundaries as his side successfully chased down Jersey’s total of 154 for five.
Elsewhere in Group A, there was an 111-run victory for hosts Zimbabwe over Singapore, while Netherlands and Uganda each secured wins in Group B.
Taylor stars as USA start with win
USA chased down Jersey’s total with 11 balls to spare as opening bat Taylor proved the star of the show.
Aaron Jones played his part in the run chase too, dovetailing nicely with Taylor in scoring a useful 38 off 30 deliveries to help USA beat the side ranked five places above them in the world rankings.
USA had earlier elected to field and, bar the best efforts of Asa Tribe (73) and Benjamin Ward (38), had always seemed to be in control, with two wickets apiece for Nisarg Patel (2/26) and Rusty Theron (2/28).
In reply, Taylor’s opening partner Monank Patel (15) was caught with the score at 47 at the end of the seventh over, leaving the tie back in the balance with USA marginally behind the required rate.
But Taylor steered his side home and fittingly brought up the win, and his century, with his fifth maximum in the penultimate over.
Zimbabwe run riot against Singapore
There was no stopping Zimbabwe in the other Group A fixture, as they set Singapore a daunting 237 to win.
Having been put into bat, the Chevrons instantly hit their stride with the opening pair of Regis Chakabva (24) and captain Craig Ervine (34) setting the tone, bringing up 50 after just 3.4 overs.
They soon fell but Sikandar Raza (87) and Sean Williams (53) carried on in the same vein, putting on 103 for the fourth wicket to help the hosts towards their eventual total of 236 for five.
Singapore got off to a slow start in reply, losing opener Rohan Rangarajan for one in the second over and seeing the required rate continue to accelerate. Janak Prakash finished as their top scorer with 32 as Singapore finished on 125 for seven.
Tendai Chatara (3-14) was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers and his double strike in the sixth over all but ended Singapore’s hopes of completing a miraculous chase.
Zimbabwe return to action against Jersey on Tuesday, while Singapore will be looking to bounce back against the USA.
Netherlands stroll past Papua New Guinea
Netherlands made an impressive start to their campaign with a 52-run victory over Papua New Guinea.
Netherlands captain Scott Edwards’ decision to bat soon looked a shrewd one when openers Max O’Dowd (32) and Stephan Myburgh (39) put on 78 for the first wicket.
The innings then began to falter as 20-year-old quick Semo Kamea (2/25) steadied the scoring rate, which had earlier threatened to take Netherlands past 200.
Wickets fell at regular intervals in the middle overs, with only Bas de Leede (33) and Logan van Beek (19 not out) offering some form of resistance, as Netherlands finished on 163 for seven.
Although Papua New Guinea lost a couple of early wickets in response, they were in the game at the midway point of the second innings, thanks to a rebuild from Charles Amini (21) and Sese Bau (35).
But after Amini had succumbed to Paul van Meekeren (2/22), Netherlands quickly wrapped up victory, with the final eight wickets falling for just 40 runs in a frenetic 8.1-over spell – van Beek completing a fine all-round display by taking three for 17.
Uganda edge past Hong Kong as bowlers dominate
In the final fixture of the day, a low-scoring affair saw Uganda chase down 87 with just three balls to spare to beat Hong Kong.
Uganda looked to be heading for a straightforward victory when they restricted their opponents to just 87 for nine.
Only two Hong Kong batters - Kinchit Shah (37) and Zeeshan Ali (11) - made double figures, with medium-pacer Dinesh Nakrani (4/12) the standout Uganda bowler.
But from the moment opener Simon Ssesazi fell for a first-ball duck in the first over of the reply, a nervy chase was in store.
Riazat Ali Shah was the key man, compiling a vital unbeaten 28 from 41 deliveries to steer his side to a dramatic final-over success despite the best efforts of Aizaz Khan (3/22).
Up next for Uganda is Papua New Guinea, while Hong Kong will be searching for a first win when they play the Netherlands.