Zimbabwe defeats West Indies and advances with all six points to the Super Sixes

Zimbabwe defeated West Indies by 35 runs

West Indies were the favorites going into the contest. The favorites were still the West Indies at the halfway point. And West Indies were perhaps even better favorites at the halfway mark of the race. However, mysteriously, illogically, and in front of a rowdy crowd in Harare, Zimbabwe won by 35 runs.

With this victory, Zimbabwe advances to the next round with a great net run rate, two points from this match, and the same number from their victory over Netherlands. 

These could be crucial in improving their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup because the top two teams from the Super Sixes stage secure their trip to India. The Super Sixes stage includes a challenging match versus Sri Lanka.

The other two teams from this group that have advanced to the Super Sixes will now compete to carry over two crucial points when they play on Monday. These teams are the West Indies and the Netherlands.

Sikandar Raza was once again named Player of the Match, according to the figures from today, taking two wickets in addition to his 58-ball 68. It will demonstrate that the top Zimbabwean bowler was the under fire Tendai Chatara, who had a 3 for 52 record. And it will display Alzarri Joseph with a pointless 2 for 42. However, this was a game that was played close to the line.

Everything got off to a somewhat fast start when Zimbabwe was put in to bat on a decent batting track that was also predicted to have some early movement for the seamers. The West Indies seamers, especially Joseph, skillfully took advantage of the ideal circumstances by getting extra bounce off good lengths and moving the ball in the air and off the ground. 

Even if the morning in Auckland wasn’t precisely cloudy, openers Joylord Gumbie and Craig Ervine showed a more reserved side. Only 37 had been achieved by the end of the 10th over.

West Indies was acting the part on the field as well, running after every failed cause and thrusting themselves around to take every advantage. 

The pressure eventually became apparent halfway through the fifteenth over, when Ervine chipped a loft attempt straight to mid-on. However, the opportunity would be blown—a pattern that would keep coming up throughout the innings.

Ervine eventually lost for 47, although it took 22 more runs for him to do so after being dropped. It would add up to more runs. However, Raza, who was dropped by Joseph on balls 1 and 7 en route to what would prove to be a match-winning 68, would be responsible for the most severe squandered opportunities. Ryan Burl, who was out for 39 while attempting to reach his fifth ODI fifty, would be the other hitter to experience a second chance.

These would be especially disheartening for West Indies because their bowling was so good despite these lost opportunities. Ervine and Raza acknowledged that Zimbabwe’s final score of 268 fell short of their desired total by roughly 30 runs.

The final 10 overs of Zimbabwe’s innings provided 75 runs, 25 of which came from a shaky last-wicket partnership between Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani. However, that partnership served as a prime example of the competitive attitude in which Zimbabwe approached this match, as the fans clapped for every run and extra as if it were a goal.

It was this momentum that carried over into Zimbabwe’s fielding performance. Despite an encouraging start from the West Indies openers—they put on 43 in 6.3 overs—the hosts managed to reel it in, picking up two quick wickets, and then stringing together a period of such sustained pressure that they strung together 16 straight dot deliveries.

The crowd continued to grow in energy and never gave up hope. Not even when Kyle Mayers lost control and hit Muzarabani three times for boundaries, or when his relationship with Shai Hope was becoming dangerously close. And especially not when Mayers missed the hole at a distance.

Hope and Nicholas Pooran had a 24-run stand that appeared to be promising for a moment, but Raza eventually castled Hope. Then Pooran and Roston Chase put together a 41-point run, which included some crushing hits to the floor. 

However, Richard Ngarava later came back and caught him leg-before with a dipping inswinger on the middle and leg. Was it descending the leg? Perhaps. But it didn’t matter because there was no DRS. It was hardly out of place in a game with such slim winning margins.

And the game would continue to follow this trend. West Indies would make headway and make a move to get ahead, but Zimbabwe would reel them in. With each new wicket, the crowd’s volume increased, until eventually the West Indies batters began to sputter and eventually collapse.

Keemo Paul would be trapped lbw looking to reverse-sweep when some encouragement and singles would have been plenty. Jason Holder, who had already scored 37 alongside Roston Chase, would fish outside the off stump and edge to the keeper. 

As he continued to try to cut one who was too near to cut, Chase would be the sixth guy to fall. The final would be Joseph, the player who had so many opportunities missed, flicking low and hard straight to a catching midwicket, with none other than Raza stationed there.

They will reflect on this game and wonder how it came to be if West Indies loses the opportunity to compete for the major prize—a place in the 2023 World Cup.