Michael Leask helped Scotland to a stunning 31-run victory over Zimbabwe on Tuesday to set up a winner-takes-all clash with the Netherlands for a place at the World Cup.
Sri Lanka became the first of the top two teams in the Super Six table to have qualified for the October-November World Cup in India when they beat Zimbabwe on Sunday.
The hosts could have clinched the second spot with victory over Scotland in Bulawayo, but it was not to be after Scottish quick Chris Sole (3-33) ripped through their top order, eventually bowled out for 203 chasing down 234.
“Our boys have been fantastic. Credit to the way the lads played today,” said Scotland captain Richie Berrington.
“The way we came out and showed faith in the second innings and get those early wickets was fantastic.”
Berrington added: “It’s a quick turnaround to the game against the Netherlands. We’ll take a lot of confidence but it’s going to be a tough game.”
“It’s a very difficult pill to swallow,” Berrington’s Zimbabwe counterpart Craig Ervine acknowledged.
“I thought we did well to restrict them to 230. Unfortunately that first initial spell from Sole really put us on the back foot and just made it hard for us to recover from that position.”
Leask top scored with a 34-ball 48 as Scotland racked up 234 runs for eight wickets off their allotted 50 overs.
Coming in at number eight, he combined with Mark Watt (21 not out) for an invaluable eighth-wicket partnership of 46 after the Scots had been left reeling at 170-7.
Three other batters – Matthew Cross (38), Brandon McMullen (34) and George Munsey (31) – all got into the 30s, but failed to build on their time at the crease.
Sean Williams grabbed 3-41 off his 10 overs, but failed to shine with the bat as Zimbabwe were quickly reduced to 37/4 in the run chase, under intense pressure from Sole.
Wessly Madhevere hit 40 and the dangerous Sikandar Raza 34 as Zimbabwe fought back.
Ryan Burl gave the host nation most hope, however, hitting 83 off 84 balls.
But Burl crucially fell to the offbreak of Leask, who also had a smart catch off his own bowling to dismiss Richard Ngarava.
The Scotsman ended with 2-33 off six overs and his team left the field knowing that a victory over the Dutch on Thursday would see them headed for India in the Autumn.
For Zimbabwe it was a case of deja vu after a similar failure in 2018 qualifiers when they also needed to win only one of their last two matches to qualify for the World Cup. They lost in both games in both 2018 and 2023.
“It’s always nice to put those demons from 2018 behind us and had we gotten over the line today, nobody would have been asking about that but unfortunately, we didn’t,” said Ervine.