|ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Group 2, Hobart
|Zimbabwe 79-5 (9 overs): madhere 35* (18); Ngidi 2-20
|South Africa 51-0 (3 overs): DeKock 47* (18)
|Without results; both teams awarded one point
A frantic Super 12 match between South Africa and Zimbabwe at the T20 Men’s World Cup ended strangely when the match was eventually called off due to rain.
After persistent but light rain in Hobart reduced the game to nine overs a side, Zimbabwe made it 79-5, with Wesley Madhevere snapping an unbeaten 35 from 18 balls.
Quinton de Kock scored 23 in the first over of the reply, before a brief delay a ball later, with South Africa’s goal reduced to 64 in seven overs, but it rained harder again.
Referees Ahsan Raza and Michael Gough initially allowed play to continue, but rhythm bowler Richard Ngarava slipped and injured his thigh on his follow-up, with Zimbabwe opting to play spin-only to protect their closers.
Wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva also slipped while going down the leg side, prompting spinner Sikandar Raza to say, “We can go underarm bowling or we won’t have 11 for the next game.”
With South Africa leading 51-0 in three overs, spinner Sean Williams was ready to bowl but raised his arm in protest. The referees then decided to withdraw the players and subsequently end the match.
South Africa had reached the total they would have needed of the minimum five overs required to constitute a game in T20 cricket.
But without the game being able to go down by two more overs, the goal was not reviewed further and they had to settle for a no result, with each side receiving one point.
The Proteas will play Bangladesh on Thursday at 04:00 BST, while Zimbabwe will play Pakistan from 12:00.
A bad look for the cricket
Cricket viewers and the media can often criticize umpires for taking too long during rain delays and being too cautious.
Gough and Raza are to be commended for trying to bring the game to a result, but the ending was not good for cricket, with player safety apparently compromised.
The forecast was for rain all night, and to have 12 overs of play, enough to constitute a game if split evenly, but not get a result is frustrating.
The rain was at its heaviest when Ngarava slipped, and the fact that the game continued for another over, after several minutes of treating the injured bowler, was hardly believable.
South Africa will feel sorely beaten as they were sailing in hot pursuit, with De Kock scoring an unbeaten 47 from 18 balls, but Zimbabwe would also have felt aggrieved had the game come to an end.
Zimbabwe head coach Dave Houghton said: “I understand the need to try to get these games to take place for the public and people on TV and to play in slightly inclement weather to try and get a result, but I felt that we crossed the line”.
“To be honest, I don’t think we should have even thrown a ball, but the umpires are the guys who call the shots in the middle and they seemed to think it was appropriate to play. We don’t agree with them, but there isn’t much.” I can do off the field.
“The rain got so heavy at one point it was ridiculous. For most of the night it was a misty drizzle, but it got to the point where you could hear the thumping on the roof of the dugout. That’s the time to get out of the countryside”.
Earlier, Zimbabwe’s batting display was chaotic. They intended to lap up and augment the fast South African bowlers, with minimal success as they slumped to 19-4.
There was also poor running and communication when Williams collided with Madhevere in the middle of the wicket before David Miller’s pinpoint toss took him out.
They improved in the later part of their innings when Madhevere shared 60 with Milton Shumba, with both understanding the need to play more orthodox cricket shots than before.
South Africa head coach Mark Boucher said: “We were in a very good position so when you walk away from this game you are going to think ‘it cost us a lot’, whether the game should have been played or not.” .
“What was disappointing from our perspective was we thought ‘are we going to have a game today?’ when we got there but then we got four-fifths of the way through and out of the field we got that close and they took it away from us and that’s probably the most frustrating part.
“The positive thing is that it is not a game of life and death for us, we are still in control of what happens to us in this World Cup.”