The excitement of the Super Six stage only went a notch higher with hosts Zimbabwe facing West Indies in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers. The two heavyweights of the qualifying campaign met at the Harare Sports Club for the first time in the tournament.
Graeme Cremer, looking to post a daunting total in front of Caribbean, won the toss and elected to bat first. However, captain Jason Holder led his troop from the front and carried on his successful campaign with four wickets to his name.
Roach conceded only 35 runs in his spell in his ten overs. He was ably supported by Kemar Roach at the other end who picked up three wickets.
Zimbabwe could only reach a target of 289, thanks to the mammoth contribution from their talismanic batsman Brendan Taylor. The veteran piled on a massive 138 off just 124 deliveries to bring up his 10th ODI ton.
Taylor treated the Harare crowd by striking a whopping twenty boundaries in his knock apart from the two maximums hit. His knock came at a strike rate of 111.
After the hosts lost a couple of crucial wickets up front, things went only bad for Zimbabwe as Mire had to leave the ground as he was struck by a bouncer from Kemar Roach. The opener made a comeback later after the wicket of Cremer and struck a vital counter-attacking 33-ball 45 after being hit in the eye.
Mire’s knock made a difference of 25-30 runs in the end. Sean Williams (34) and Sikandar Raza (22) also chipped in with their respective contribution to assist Brendan Taylor at the other end. Chisoro’s contribution down the order also came in handy again for the home side yet again.
Zimbabwe set a target of 290 in front of Windies
Chasing a stiff target of 290, the Windies came our all guns blazing as Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis looked to make use of the field restriction. After the wickets Gayle, Lewis took it upon himself to score the runs.
Things were looking difficult for the men in red once the powerful southpaw was at the crease. Lewis smacked 64 off 75 deliveries which consisted of seven boundaries and a six.
However, the game-changing moment in the match arrived with the partnership between Marlon Samuels and Shai Hope. The two added 135 runs for the West Indies to assure a victory for the Caribbean.
Samuels put his scratchy form behind with his fluent 80-ball 86 while Shai Hope anchored innings with his 76 off 97 deliveries. The match turned out to be a thriller in the end with Zimbabwe coming into the match with a vital breakthrough.
That said, West Indies held their nerves and chased down the target with four wickets in hand. Zimbabwe faced their first loss in the tournament and handed the West Indians the top spot in the points table. Samuels was adjudged as the man of the match for his batting efforts.
With this win, Zimbabwe lost their chance to seal a spot for themselves in the qualifiers while West Indies remain alive in the qualifiers with a crucial win against the host.
Zimbabwe 289-10 (50); Brendan Taylor 138 (124), Jason Holder 4/35, Kemar Roach 3/55
Windies 290-6 (49); Marlon Samuels 86 (80), Shai Hope 76 (97), Blessing Muzarabani 2/36, Graeme Cremer 2/63
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