Zimbabwe did the business, just about, against Hong Kong to start their ICC World T20 2016 campaign with a win in Nagpur Tuesday.
Put into bat first, Zimbabwe had to post a competitive total if they were to avoid a loss to Hong Kong in the first ever T20 international between the two teams, and Vusi Sibanda (50, 46b, 5x4, 2x6) and Elton Chigumbura (30 n.o., 13b, 3x6) helped the African side, the favourites to go through to the Super 10s from Group B, to 158/8 in their 20 overs.
On a slow and low wicket in Nagpur, Zimbabwe put the squeeze on early, and with a big start not coming, there was just too much to do for the Hong Kong batsmen in the end, with the Associate side finishing their 20 overs on 144/8, 14 short of the Zimbabwe's total.
If Hong Kong were going to make a game of it, a fast start was essential, but Western Australian and former Australia international Ryan Campbell, making his T20I debut at the age of 44 and playing his first international game in 14 years, struggled for timing on the slow wicket at the VCA Stadium.
Tinashe Panyangara, Donald Tiripano and Tendai Chatara all kept it nice and tight early on, and it was no surprise when Campbell fell after a difficult 19-ball 9. Babar Hayat came in and went for nine as well, leaving Jamie Atkinson and Mark Chapman (19, 17b, 2x4, 1x6) to rebuild the chase.
They did that quite decently, putting on 32 runs together at a run a ball, before Atkinson (53, 44b, 4x4, 2x6) accelerated the innings alongside Anshuman Rath (13, 8b, 2x4). Their partnership of 33 from three overs made it interesting, but with the run rate at over 13, it was always going to be a tall order, with captain Tanwir Afzal's unbeaten 31 (17b, 3x4, 1x6) proving to be in vain.
Earlier, Afzal (4-0-19-2) bowled four smart overs at the top to keep Zimbabwe, who ran quite poorly as well, under control, before Sibanda and Malcolm Waller brought them back on course with a 61-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
However, Waller's wicket triggered another mini-collapse as Zimbabwe lost three wickets for four runs just when they needed to accelerate. But, Chigumbura came to the fore in style, tonking three big sixes to ensure Zimbabwe would have a total their bowlers could defend.
In the second match of the day, Afghanistan held their nerve with the ball to beat Scotland.
Watch the highlights of the match HERE