Brendan Taylor scored his 10th one-day international hundred and his first against West Indies but received little support in Zimbabwe’s 289 all out and four-wicket loss to the Carribean side.
Clinching close matches and playing out last-gasp finishes have become a habit for Zimbabwe in this tournament. For once, however, the result went against them.
The Windies chased down a 290-run target for the loss of six wickets with six balls to spare. The result means the winner of the Windies versus Scotland match on Wednesday will become the first side to qualify for the World Cup, while Zimbabwe can become the second side to progress to the event proper if they defeat the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.
Taylor, who had joined Nottinghamshire post the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 but returned to Zimbabwe colours last October, was at his brilliant best as he shred the Windies bowling to pieces. His drives were as elegant and crafty as his cuts, pulls and sweeps, while his reverse sweeps and sliced shots over the wicketkeeper were equally effective and attractive to watch.
With nearly 8,000 chanting and clapping spectators behind him, Taylor reached his half-century from 65 balls with eight fours, while he completed his 10th career century in his 181st match from 105 balls with 16 fours.
Taylor had walked onto the field at the score of 28 for two and was the sixth batsman out at 246. Taylor added 79 runs for the fifth wicket with Sikandar Raza (22) after he had put on 76 for the fourth wicket with Sean Williams (34).
In response, West Indies lost Chris Gayle early, but a 135-run third wicket stand between Shai Hope and Marlon Samuels tipped the chase in West Indies’ favour. Late wickets raised hopes of an unlikely comeback for Zimbabwe, but Rovman Powell’s nerveless cameo helped avoid any last-minute hiccups as West Indies won with an over to spare.
The result means the winner of the Windies versus Scotland match on Wednesday will become the first side to qualify for the World Cup, while Zimbabwe can become the second side to progress to the event proper if they defeat the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.
On the other hand, if Afghanistan defeat the UAE on Tuesday, Scotland defeat the Windies on Wednesday and the UAE upset Zimbabwe on Thursday, then the Windies and either Afghanistan or Ireland will finish on equal points and net run-rate will decide which side joins Scotland for the World Cup, which will be played from 30 May to 14 July.
In another scenario, if the Windies finish on eight points following a victory over Scotland, Afghanistan defeat the UAE and the UAE upsets Zimbabwe, then the Ireland versus Afghanistan match will be a shoot-out for the second qualifier behind the Windies.