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Zimbabwe stun West Indies in World Cup qualifier Loop Barbados

West Indies experienced their first defeat at the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier, succumbing by 35 runs to hosts Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

Zimbabwe compiled a total of 268 runs from 49.5 overs. In pursuit of a victory target of 269 for victory, West Indies faltered, collapsing from a promising 110 for three to a vulnerable 220 for eight before ultimately being bundled out for 233.

After winning their first toss of the competition, the West Indies asked the Zimbabweans to bat first. However, the home team was very calculated in their initial approach and navigated the morning period quite effectively, getting to 61 runs in 15.3 overs before losing their first wicket. They continued to fall at regular intervals thereafter, until an 87-run fifth-wicket partnership between Sikandar Raza (68 from 58 balls) and Ryan Burl (50 from 57 balls).

The Zimbabwean lower order put up a bit of resistance and were able to get their team to the respectable total of 268 before they were bowled out with one ball left in the innings.

West Indies missed several vital chances which let Zimbabwe off the hook and allowed them to post the challenging target.

Seamer Keemo Paul was the standout bowler, taking 3-61 in his full allotment of overs, and left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein (2-45) was also effective. Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph was again impressive and ended with 2-42 – to move to 99 career wickets in his 59th ODI.

West Indies batsman Kyle Mayers in action during their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier match against Zimbabwe.

The West Indies came out to bat with a clear task at hand. Opener Kyle Mayers (56 from 72 balls) stroked a well-played half century. This was followed up by solid contributions in the middle from captain Shai Hope (30 from 39 runs), Nicholas Pooran (34 from 36 runs) and Roston Chase (44 from 53 runs). However, the men from the Caribbean were unable to cross the line, running out of wickets on 233, with 5.2 overs still left to bat.

Seamer Tendai Chatara (3-52) took crucial wickets at important times, including the final one of the days play. Blessing Muzarabani (2-33), Richard Ngarava (2-25) and player-of-the-match Sikandar Raza (2-36) also had extremely valuable contributions.

Speaking in the post-match press conference, West Indies head coach Daren Sammy expressed his disappointment.

“We have spoken about it for the past few games. If you keep giving the oppositions best batters chances, eventually the Cricket God’s will catch up to you. Considering the direction that we want this team going in, today was really poor. It’s about taking responsibility and we didn’t do that today. Hence, we did not deserve to win at all,” he said.

That West Indies will look to bounce back on Monday against the Netherlands in their fourth and final Group A match. While they, along with Zimbabwe and Netherlands have already qualified for the ‘Super Six’ stage of the tournament, that match is crucial, for points allocation.

All points won in the group stage will be carried over to the Super Six stage apart from those gained against the bottom two from each group. Therefore Zimbabwe will carry forward four points (from the two wins over West Indies and Netherlands). West Indies will aim to defeat Netherlands and carry forward two points.

The Super Six stage will be played from Thursday, June 29 to Friday July 7.

The teams each play three Super Six matches against the sides that progress from the opposite group. The final will be played at Harare Sports Club on Sunday, July 9. Both finalists will progress to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, to be played in India.