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SOLOMON Mire starred with a fiery half century and then picked two wickets to help Zimbabwe clinch a confidence boosting 22-run win over Northern Districts XI in their first warm-up match in New Zealand yesterday.

In a match that had to be reduced to 35 overs per side due to rain, Zimbabwe were put in to bat first in gloomy conditions and the batsmen, barring a couple, showed signs of rust in getting to 229 runs.

Opener Sikandar Raza Butt continued in his rich vein of form and helped himself to a quick-fire 59 off 53 balls.

Craig Ervine scratched around for 31 runs in the middle period before Solomon Mire provided the finishing touch to the innings with an explosive 68 not out to power Zimbabwe to a respectable score.

Mire, who keeps impressing with each outing, came in at eight and consolidated his heralded pinch-hitting reputation with an innings that included three fours and six towering sixes from the 32 balls he faced.

But there was no joy for most of the batsmen like Chamu Chibhabha who fell on 16, Hamilton Masakadza (2), Brendan Taylor (11), Sean Williams (7) and skipper Elton Chigumbura (16).

For Northern Districts XI, Donovan Deeble was the pick of the bowlers claiming four wickets for 50 runs.

Northern Districts, however, did not go quietly. They set off at a sprint and their middle order led by Jono Boult (59) kept them in the game but they failed to sustain the aggression as the asking rate soared irreversibly out of reach. Tinashe Panyangara (2-27) and Tendai Chatara (1-28) were at their usual disciplined best upfront with Solomon Mire (2-22) offering support.

The spin duo of Tafadzwa Kamungozi (1-34) and Sean Williams (1-23) were economical in the middle period and slowed the scoring.

Zimbabwe can be relieved to have done what was expected of them, and they will go into the second one-day warm-up match tomorrow keen to continue with the winning trend.

The team is using the warm up matches to prepare for the ICC World Cup which begins next week in Australia and New Zealand.

Zimbabwe have set base in New Zealand where they are expected to play their opening two World Cup matches against South Africa and United Arab Emirates later this month.

Other teams in their group are West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and defending champions India.

Squads

Zimbabwe XI

Sikandar Raza Butt, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (wicket-keeper), Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Elton Chigumbura (captain), Solomon Mire, Tinashe Panyangara, Tendai Chatara, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Regis Chakabva and Prosper Utseya.

Northern Districts XI

Bharat Popli, Anish Desai, Scott Tallott, Tim Seifert (wicket-keeper), Jono Boult (captain), Tom Hayes, Brett Hampton, Peter Bocock, Arnie Yugaraja, D Thompson, Tony Goodin and Donovan Deeble. — Sports ReporterZimcricket

Source : The Herald

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