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WIndies stumble, but seal series
07 Dec 2007
By: Liam Camps

Dwayne Bravo, the stand-in West Indies captain, led his team to a 5-wicket win over Zimbabwe and an unassailable 3-1 series lead. Bravo scored 41 at a run-a-ball to remove West Indies from a troublesome situation and seal a comfortable victory. Earlier Jerome Taylor was the unquestionable star. The fast bowler took 5 for 48 and triggered a dramatic collapse after Zimbabwe posted a magnificent opening partnership of 167.

Zimbabwe were inserted and eased away from a careful and slow start. At times there seemed little West Indies could do to stem the flow of runs. It was the first pairing of Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza in the series, though they looked seasoned in their roles. Sibanda brought up his half-century from 68 balls on his way to 96. His partner Masakadza swept confidently to pass the Flower-powered (Grant and Andy) opening partnership record of 161 and establish a new mark. With the same stroke he went past his career high score of 75. He raised his best to 80, then supplied the first wicket to West Indies - stumped, swatting at Lewis.

For all the brilliance of the openers, the remainder of the Zimbabwe batting offered a meek measure of resistance, an understatement. The next 9 wickets collapsed for a total of 65 runs, largely against the diligence of Taylor. Chigumbura (1) and Tatenda Taibu (0) were dismissed with consecutive balls soon after the return of the pacer. A Bravo direct hit then robbed Sibanda of a chance at a second one-day international hundred and sent the innings further into tailspin. While his namesake tore through the lower order, the responsibility for Zimbabwe fell to a willing Brendan Taylor. In a 34-ball stay he managed 26 unbeaten and carried his team to a respectable, if disappointing, 232-9.

Even without the services of Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul - the two premiere West Indies batsmen - the visitors threw caution to wind and advanced with a certain careless confidence in their chase. Runako Morton (79) continued his run of good scores with another pugnacious half-century innings from the number three position. He seemed content to play aggressively regardless of the delivery, chancing his arm regularly and regularly mistiming the ball through his innings. He was dropped thrice over the course of his innings and Zimbabwe largely were sloppy in the field, and lacked creativity in field placings.

Together with Marlon Samuels, Morton added 105 for the third wicket to set up the run chase. The partnership came as relief after the early loss of Smith, bowled by Chigumbura for 0 to continue a miserable run of form. Brenton Parchment - playing his second international - scored 25 and holed out against Utseya's offspin. The batsmen swept dutifully and comfortably in their advance. And with things looking increasingly safe, despite the loss of Morton, Samuels needlessly threw his wicket away for 62. Narsingh Deonarine came and went to a top-edged sweep for the traditional twist to the West Indian tale. But at five wickets down, Bravo was joined by his countryman Denesh Ramdin and ensured that there would be no further loss. A couple of lusty blows off Price ensured a sense of dominance for West Indies in their closing paces.

[B]Zimbabwe 232-9 (50 overs)[/B]
Vusi Sibanda 96, Hamilton Masakadza 80, Brendan Taylor 26*
Jerome Taylor 5-48

[B]West Indies 233-5 (47 overs)[/B]
Runako Morton 79, Marlon Samuels 62, Dwayne Bravo 41*
Prosper Utseya 3-40

[I]West Indies won by 5 wickets.[/I]
[B]Cricket Web Man of the Match:[/B] Jerome Taylor

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