Williams’ unbeaten 76, with seven fours and a six off 65 balls, took Zimbabwe home as they successfully hunted down 286 with 12 balls left, despite the UAE posting their highest-ever one-day total at the Saxton Oval.
Shaiman Anwar’s fine 50-ball 67, with nine boundaries and a maximum, helped the UAE finish on 285 for seven, but once Williams loosened up Zimbabwe’s victory was scarcely in doubt. He joined Craig Ervine (42) in a crucial stand of 83, just after some nerves began to creep in at 167 for five, and the 28-year-old capped off the win in style by hitting three successive fours.
Zimbabwe won the toss and chose to field first, confident their bowlers would have more success after South Africa set an unobtainable target of 340 in their opening World Cup defeat.
The UAE batsmen made an unsteady start, with Andri Berenger lucky to survive his first ball of the day as Brendan Taylor dropped what looked like a straightforward catch behind.
Berenger made 22 off 36 balls before following Amjad Ali (seven) back to the pavillion with the UAE on 40 for two.
Krishna Chandran and Khurram Khan combined in an impressive 82-run third-wicket stand, but two bowling changes brought their knocks to an end, Zimbabwe’s Solomon Mire tempting Chandran (34) into a miscue and Khan’s (45) attempted cut off Tendai Chatara being plucked out of the air by Williams to leave UAE on 134 for four.
Anwar anchored the UAE’s middle order, joining Swapnil Patil (32) in the UAE’s second 82-run partnership of the day. Anwar was finally picked off to leave the UAE on 232 for seven with just under six overs left.
Amjad Javed (25 not out) and Mohammad Naveed (23no) put on 53 between them to see out the allotted overs.
In reply, Zimbabwe went to 61 without loss after 12 overs, but wickets soon began to fall. Sikandar Raza (46) gave his wicket away cheaply to Mohammad Tauqir. Hamilton Masakadza (one) and Regis Chakabva (35) were next to walk, before Taylor (47) was trapped lbw and Mire (nine) edged behind to leave Zimbabwe on 167 for five with just over 17 overs remaining.
Ervine and Williams alleviated any jitters, before Ervine departed with Zimbabwe needing 36 off 42 balls. Williams won the match in style in the 48th over, with Elton Chigumbura (14 not out) offering support at the end.