Lacklustre WI advance to Super 8

Far from the brilliance of their opening win against Pakistan, World Cup hosts West Indies laboured past Zimbabwe by 6 wickets to qualify for the Super Eight stage. The flattering margin of victory all but distracted from a generally uninspired performance by the West Indies and an impressive fighting show from Zimbabwe.

The day started as brightly as hopes indicated, and Jerome Taylor and Daren Powell quickly accounted for the Zimbabwe openers. A dire start of 2-2, then 59-4, could have been expected to dismantle the confidence of this Zimbabwean side. But on this occasion, helped by some lacklustre bowling by the West Indies, they pushed on to a commendable 202-5. Leading the fightback were the young heads of Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams – 21 and 20 years of age respectively.

The two batted calmly and rebuilt steadily, allowing the home team to contribute a healthy number of runs through extras – 23 in total. Taylor was the first to go, run out again, having made a patient 50 from 121 balls. Against Ireland it was his dismissal that triggered a stunning collapse and denied Zimbabwe a seeming sure victory. On this occasion it allowed Elton Chigumbura to shine. Williams continued well at the other end and raised his fourth one-day international half-century from 70 balls. He finished unbeaten on 70 and struck a total of 7 fours in his 88-ball stay. At the other end, Chigumbura’s cameo came to the tune of 30 runs from 29 balls, and he too was unbeaten.

Home fans at the ground probably expected to see their team blast past the moderate total of 202, but were instead treated to a cautious start by Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. It was not until the 14th over that the West Indies decided to approach the total with any true vigor. Gayle launched into Mupariwa’s medium-paced bowling and collected 3 sixes off the first 3 deliveries. The seamer came back well and finished the over with 3 dot balls and it was a fair reflection of the bowling performance on the day. The bowlers never truly allowed the batsmen any leeway to build momentum, and instead took regular wickets after the initial breakthrough.

Chanderpaul (21) pushed at a Chigumbura delivery and was caught by Sibanda at the lone slip. The wicket broke a stand of 73 between the openers and an over later, Gayle followed. On this occasion it was in more spectacular fashion. Sibanda, again the catcher, took the rebound off the miss of wicketkeeper Taylor, and Zimbabwe sensed a genuine competition at hand. The wickets of Sarwan (12) and an impressive-looking Samuels (28) followed to leave the West Indies contemplative at 129-4.

The potentially tricky spot was arrested by Brian Lara and his countryman Dwayne Bravo. It was not the most impressive of partnerships, despite its billing of 75 not out. Lara should have been run out on two occasions and was dropped toward the close of the game. Bravo too was dropped; Gary Brent spilling the easy chance at third man with 18 runs required by the West Indies. The allrounder claimed a single for the offense and carried his total to 37 then watched his captain slam the winning runs. And Lara did it in style – a trademark coverdrive and then a nonchalant flick over midwicket saw him from 34 to 44 in the space of two deliveries.

The West Indies are now through to the second round of the tournament, but will know that there are many improvements needed on the back of today’s showing. Zimbabwe face a do-or-die situation, whereby they must defeat Pakistan to keep their chances of a Super Eight berth alive. A win for Ireland over the West Indies, however, will eliminate Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe 202-5
Sean Williams 70*, Brendan Taylor 50
Jerome Taylor 2-42, Daren Powell 1-15

West Indies 204-4
Brian Lara 44*, Chris Gayle 40, Dwayne Bravo 37*
Tawanda Mupariwa 1-34

West Indies won by 6 wickets.

Man of the Match: Sean Williams

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