Harare : An all-round performance helped Zimbabwe stun two-time champions West Indies by 35 runs in their ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers on Saturday.
With this win, Zimbabwe is at the top of Group A with three wins in three matches, a total of six points. On the other hand, WI is at the third position with two wins and a loss, a total of four points. Bolstered by support from the home crowd, Zimbabwe worked their way to a great win over West Indies at Harare.
In the chase of 269, Zimbabwe struck twice in the first 10 overs to make a comeback after Brandon King (20) and Kyle Mayers (56 off 72 balls, with eight fours and a six) had helped their side to an impressive start. After taking Tendai Chatara's third over for 14 runs, West Indies seemed to be in complete control of the first powerplay.
However, Blessing Muzarabani got a breakthrough in his very first over to remove King for 20. Zimbabwe got their second success when left-arm pacer Richard Ngrava got rid of Johnson Charles (1) in the 10th over. They could've had another one off the last ball but the fielder missed a straightforward run-out opportunity. The score was 55/2 at the end of the first powerplay and it was still anyone's game.
Disciplined bowling from Zimbabwe ensured that the pressure increased on Shai Hope and Mayers, as the duo collected only eight runs between overs 11-14. However, Mayers struck a hat-trick of fours in the 15th over to lift West Indies.
The crucial third-wicket stand of 64 from 67 helped West Indies get past 100. It was Wellington Masakadza who gave Craig Ervine's men their next success, when he had Mayers for 56 in the 21st over. Nicholas Pooran came in at no. 5 and continued in his characteristic free-flowing style. He got off the mark with a hat-trick of boundaries.
However, any aspirations of another match-turning Hope-Pooran stand were nipped in the bud by the talismanic Sikandar Raza, who cleaned up Hope (30 in 39 balls) in the 24th over. Pooran (34) then struck a patient 41-run partnership with Roston Chase (44), but his dismissal in the 32nd over again changed the flavour of the game. Muzarabani got Rovman Powell (1) in the very next over to put Zimbabwe on the top.
Having found a way into the West Indies tail, the Zimbabwe bowlers were relentless and kept going for wickets. Chatara made a brilliant comeback after a poor start to finish at 3/52, Raza added two wickets to another exceptional batting performance, while Richard Ngrava starred with wickets of Charles and Pooran.
Windies was bundled out for 233 runs in 44.4 overs.
Earlier, an important 87-run stand between Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl had helped Zimbabwe to a respectable total after West Indies had delivered crucial blows in the first half of their innings.
Neither side gained the upper hand in the first powerplay, as West Indies were without a wicket while Zimbabwe were restricted to under four runs an over. This was the first time in 10 ODIs, that West Indies were without a wicket in the powerplay overs.
While Zimbabwe managed to marginally increase their scoring rate hereafter, West Indies remained sharp on the field and held on to their chances. Joylord Gumbie (26) was lbw to Keemo Paul in the 16th over. Soon after, Wessly Madhevere (2) was caught at mid-on off Akeal Hosein.
Zimbabwe would have hoped for the experienced pair of Craig Ervine and Sean Williams to come good in this tough hour. But their troubles compounded when Ervine fell to an ill-timed reverse sweep for 47 in 58 balls.
Williams and Sikandar Raza then adopted an aggressive approach against West Indies bowlers. While this yielded quick runs, it also brought about the southpaw's demise. Williams fell for 23 when he tried to swipe a rising Alzarri Joseph delivery over the mid-wicket in the 25th over.
Last game's record centurion Raza, then joined hands with Ryan Burl to revive Zimbabwe. The duo survived some close chances, before picking up pace and going for their shots. Their fifth-wicket stand added 87 runs off 94 balls, before Burl fell lbw to Hosein for 50 in 57 balls. Raza kept scoring at a brisk pace and brought up his half-century with back-to-back boundaries against Jason Holder in the 42nd over.
The all-rounder eventually fell for 68 after pulling a Kyle Mayers delivery to Joseph in the deep. The West Indies bowlers fought back in the final powerplay to pick six wickets, though slack work towards the end helped the final pair to add 25 runs off 15 balls. Zimbabwe ended at 268 in 49.5 overs.
Keemo Paul (3/61), Alzarri Joseph (2/42) and Akeal Hosein (2/45) were among the wickets for WI.
Earlier, West Indies won the toss, and decided to bowl first. Both sides went into the game without any changes.