The United Arab Emirates failed to read the script as they secured a three-run Duckworth-Lewis win over Zimbabwe to leave the hosts facing the prospect of missing out on the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Victory for Graeme Cremer’s men in their final qualifier would have ensured they joined West Indies in the tournament in England and Wales next year.
Instead, the UAE left a capacity crowd at the Harare Sports Club stunned after edging their first ODI victory over a nation that has played Test cricket, leaving the door open for either Ireland or Afghanistan to qualify by winning the final Super Sixes stage match on Friday.
Rameez Shahzad top scored with 59 as the UAE posted 235-7 from 47.5 overs before the weather brought their innings to a close, Sikandar Raza taking 3-41.
Zimbabwe fall 4 runs short of the target!
It’s over to you @Irelandcricket & @ACBofficials!#UAEvZIM scorecard https://t.co/s0v5ppwsUM#CWCQ pic.twitter.com/saQ5I7a8Ka
— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) March 22, 2018
Zimbabwe looked to be on course to reach their revised target of 230 from 40 overs when they were 185-4 in the 35th over, but Sean Williams’ excellent knock of 80 was in vain.
Craig Ervine (22 not out) struck a fortuitous boundary off the third ball of the final over from Mohammad Naveed to leave Zimbabwe needing eight from the last three balls, but it was the UAE who were celebrating after claiming their first win of the Super Sixes.
Captain Cremer said: “We lost wickets in crucial periods. Taking nothing away from UAE, they bowled and fielded excellently. Credit to our team for holding our nerve in a few games through the tournament.
“We’ll pick ourselves up soon, but right now it doesn’t feel too good.”