Muzarabani wins Espncricinfo awards
ZIMBABWE pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani has been honoured for his super-over hero performance in Pakistan last year after he was named winner of the men’s ODI cricket bowling performance of the year in the 14th edition of the ESPNcricinfo Awards.
Muzarabani was hailed for his performance in the third ODI against Pakistan in Rawalpindi in November last year in which he took five wickets for 49. It was also Muzarabani’s first five-wicket haul in Zimbabwe’s colours.
A man who appeared to have moved on from Zimbabwe two years earlier, the 6’’ 6” Muzarabani was fast-tracked back into the national side at the first opportunity, and in the final ODI against Pakistan, he justified why the selectors had been so keen.
He started with a wicket in the first over of Pakistan’s chase and his efforts stretched beyond the regulation innings and into a wild Super Over.
After he breached Imam-ul-Haq’s defences with his third ball, Zimbabwe let the game drift as Pakistan chased 279. Middle-overs partnerships by Babar Azam with Khushdil Shah and Wahab Riaz inched Pakistan closer to their target.
Muzarabani returned to break both stands, then got rid of Shaheen Afridi, and off the last ball of his spell, snared Azam for 125.
With Pakistan nine down and needing 13, it seemed that Muzarabani had got his side over the line, only for a four off the final delivery to take it to a Super Over.
Here, the inspired Muzarabani rose once more, demonstrating his composure as he outfoxed Iftikhar Ahmed with a slower ball first up, before taking care of Shah two balls later. Zimbabwe needed just three to win, which they got in three balls.
It was the 49th over, and Pakistan needed 20 to win. Muzarabani came in to bowl his last, and Azam flicked his second ball away for six to swing the game back in Pakistan’s favour.
Muzarabani got him off strike and with his penultimate delivery fooled Shaheen Afridi with a slower ball that he would scoop tamely to Raza. Muzarabani then sent down a magical short ball to Azam that threatened to lodge itself up the batsman’s nostrils. As he frantically tried to fend it off, he got a tickle through to the keeper.
Muzarabani conceded two runs in the super over. This is the most economical a bowler has been in a Super Over in internationals.
Lungi Ngidi of South Africa was the closest contender with his career best 6 for 58 against Australia in Bloemfontein. Career best figures for Ngidi helped South Africa seal a home ODI series win against Australia. Ngidi removed the top three of David Warner, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne cheaply, and returned to raze the tail as Australia were restricted to a below-par 271.
The ESPNcricinfo Awards recognise the best individual batting and bowling performances in cricket over the previous calendar year. They are voted on by an independent jury of former cricketers, commentators, and ESPNcricinfo’s senior writers. Previous winners have included Dale Steyn, Lasith Malinga, Ellyse Perry, Glenn Maxwell, Harmanpreet Kaur, Shahid Afridi and Kumar Sangakkara
The 2020 winners
Men’s Test batting performance of the year: Ajinkya Rahane, 112 vs Australia, Melbourne
Men’s Test bowling performance of the year: Josh Hazlewood, 5 for 8 vs India, Adelaide
Men’s ODI batting performance of the year: Glenn Maxwell, 108 vs England, Manchester
Men’s ODI bowling performance of the year: Blessing Muzarabani, 5 for 49 vs Pakistan, Rawalpindi
Men’s T20I batting performance of the year: Jonny Bairstow, 86 not out vs South Africa, Cape Town
Men’s T20I bowling performance of the year: Lockie Ferguson, 5 for 21 vs West Indies, Auckland
Women’s batting performance of the year: Alyssa Healy, 75 vs India, T20 World Cup final, Melbourne
Women’s bowling performance of the year: Poonam Yadav, 4 for 19 vs Australia, T20 World Cup, Sydney
Debutant of the year: Kyle Jamieson — Cricinfo/Sports Reporter