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One up – Windies win T20 opener

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

One up – Windies win T20 opener

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NORTH SOUND – Audacious West Indies hardly broke a sweat as they nonchalantly brushed aside Zimbabwe by eight wickets in their opening Twenty20 International here yesterday at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
Chasing an inadequate 131 for victory, the T20 World champions were propelled by opener Lendl Simmons, who struck a six-laden, unbeaten 63 to see them home off the first ball of the 17th over.
Simmons faced 49 balls and struck one four and six sixes, putting on 85 in an unbroken third-wicket stand with all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, whose 38 came from 30 balls and included three fours and a six.
Pacer Chris Mpofu was the standout Zimbabwean bowler, taking two for 14 from four accurate overs.
The victory gave West Indies a 1-0 lead in the two-match series which concludes at the same venue today.
Winning the toss and batting, Zimbabwe lost early wickets up front and needed a 60-run fourth-wicket partnership off 62 balls between Malcolm Waller (49) and Craig Ervine (34), to restore respectability to the total.
They were unsettled by fast bowler Tino Best, who finished with three or 18, while medium pacer Dwayne Bravo (2-16) and off-spinner Sunil Narine (2-17), shared four wickets.
Vusi Sibanda was shaping up well with three fours in 13 off 12 balls before upper-cutting Best to Simmons at third man at 16 for one.
With one run added, captain Brendan Taylor attempted a reverse sweep at leg-spinner Samuel Badree off the third ball he faced and edged behind without scoring.
Hamilton Masakadza, who made nine, clobbered Best over square for six but two balls later was brilliantly caught by Kieron Pollard, jumping high to his left at point to haul in a savage cut one-handed.
With Zimbabwe tottering at 28 for three, Waller and Ervine revived the innings. Waller struck four fours and two sixes – both off captain Darren Sammy’s medium pace in the 17th over which cost 18 runs – while Ervine faced 39 balls and counted five boundaries.
Narine outfoxed Ervine in the 16th over to have him stumped but Waller carried on in a 31-run, fifth wicket stand with Chamu Chibhabha (8) to see Zimbabwe past three figures.
After Waller was bowled by Narine, the last three wickets fell for 12 runs in the last two overs.
In reply, West Indies were away quickly as Johnson Charles slammed 26 from 14 balls with six fours in posting 30 off 23 balls for the first wicket with Simmons.
The aggressive Charles slammed five consecutive fours in seamer Kyle Jarvis’ second over which cost 21 runs but perished in the next over lbw to Mpofu.
Stylish left-hander Darren Bravo (0) lasted just four balls before top edging a quick delivery from Mpofu to Chibhabha at mid-on at 46 for two in the sixth over.
Zimbabwe then had a golden opportunity to rattle West Indies further but wicketkeeper Taylor fumbled a chance to run out Dwayne Bravo when he was four.
That proved to be Zimbabwe’s last look-in as Simmons and Bravo attacked to erase any doubts about the result.
Simmons twice deposited young leg-spinner Tinotenda Mutombodzi over long-on for sixes in the fifth over before repeating the feat off Natsai Mushangwe, in the leg-spinner’s third over which cost 18 runs.
Not to be left out, Bravo also lofted Mushangwe over cover for boundaries before stylishly striking off-spinner Prosper Utseya inside-out over wide long-off for six.
Fittingly, though, it was Simmons who ended the match, smashing a full toss from Jarvis straight down the ground for the maximum. (CMC)