West Indies – 153-7 in 20 overs (Johnson Charles 45, Rovman Powell 28, Akeal Hosein 23*; Sikandar Raza 3/19, Blessing Muzarabani 2/38, Sean Williams 1/17)
Zimbabwe – 122 all out in 18.2 overs (Luke Jongwe 29, Wessly Madhevere 27, Ryan Burl 17; Alzarri Joseph 4/16, Jason Holder 3/12, Akeal Hosein 1/25)
West Indies won by 31 runs
Superb pace bowling by the West Indies pair of Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder proved the vital factor in Zimbabwe’s 31-run defeat in their first-round Group B match at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe had however given themselves a good chance of victory by restricting the West Indies to 153 runs in their 20 overs, after the Caribbean side chose to bat on winning the toss at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart, Australia.
Kyle Mayers and Johnson Charles opened their batting against the bowling of Richard Ngarava and Tendai Chatara.
They made a brisk start, but Blessing Muzarabani came on to bowl the fourth over and surprise Mayers with the extra bounce from his height – he skyed an attempted pull off the top edge that was taken by the wicket-keeper Regis Chakabva.
Evin Lewis settled in with Charles and the two put on a good partnership for the second wicket.
They took the score to 77 in the 10th over before Sikandar Raza came on to bowl and took a wicket.
The ball was short and wide outside the off stump, but Lewis, aiming for a six, only succeeded in slogging a catch to Milton Shumba at long-on, having made 15.
This was the start of Zimbabwe’s breakthrough, as the West Indies captain, Nicholas Pooran, chopped a return catch to Sean Williams for seven – 90 for three in the 13th over.
Two wickets fell on 97, as a complete mix-up over an unlikely single led to Charles being run out by Tony Munyonga throwing to the bowler’s end.
He had played a fine innings to make his team’s top score, 45 off 36 balls with two sixes and three fours.
Without addition to the score, the new man, Shamarh Brooks, missed a hit across the line to a straight ball from Raza and was plumb lbw.
Three balls later Holder after hitting a boundary drove a return catch to Raza, and Zimbabwe were right on top with the West Indies score 101 for six wickets after 14 overs.
The renowned hitter Rovman Powell was still there, though, and Akeal Hosein came in next to give him the support he needed.
They attacked the bowling well and took the score to 150 in the final over, when a mishit from Powell sent up a huge skyer that was held safely by Ngarava off the bowling of Muzarabani.
Powell had scored 28 off 21 balls with two sixes and a four.
The final score was 153 for seven wickets, with Hosein unbeaten on 23 off 18 balls.
Raza returned the best bowling figures of three wickets for 19 in his four overs, while Muzarabani, with 38 runs conceded, took two vital wickets.
Zimbabwe therefore had a target of 154 to win, giving both teams a fair chance of victory.
They made a stirring start, as Chakabva hit three superb fours in the opening over from Mayers, which also included a wide that raced to the boundary to make it 18 runs altogether.
However, in the third over Chakabva swung wildly at a good ball from Joseph and dragged it on to his stumps for 13 – 29 for one.
Munyonga, who had replaced the unwell Craig Ervine in the team, came in now to join Wessly Madhevere, but was comprehensively bowled by a fast yorker from Joseph for two.
Sean Williams scored only a single before he slashed at a fast ball from Obed McCoy to be caught at the wicket – 48 for three.
This became 58 for four as Madhevere was next to go, as an uppish cut off Holder was brilliantly caught by Lewis at point, putting him out for 27 off 19 balls.
It looked like this was another situation where another great innings from Raza was needed for Zimbabwe, but no man can do it every time.
He scored 14 off eight balls, with a six and a four, but in trying to slash a ball from Odean Smith over the covers he skyed it to be caught by Powell.
At 64 for five in the eighth over the situation was grim for Zimbabwe, but not hopeless, as Ryan Burl joined Shumba at the crease.
Zimbabwe had achieved a good early run rate, so after 10 overs they were more than halfway there, with 78 runs on the board, but only five wickets left.
Immediately afterwards, though, Shumba (2) fell, caught off a sweep off Hosein, and Zimbabwe were 79 for six.
Then at 92 the last major batter, Ryan Burl, was beaten and trapped plumb lbw to Holder for 17, which sounded a virtual death knell for Zimbabwe’s hopes in this match.
Jongwe brought up the 100 in the 15th over, with Ngarava now his partner.
Ngarava went for two, to Joseph, while Jongwe made a gallant attempt to achieve the virtually impossible by cracking 29 off 22 balls before he was beaten and bowled by another yorker from Joseph.
Chatara was the last man out, bowled by Holder for three, leaving Muzarabani not out with one.
Zimbabwe were all out for 122 with 10 balls in hand.
Joseph finished with four wickets – all bowled out – for 16 runs and Holder three for 12, and it was their fine bowling most of all that sunk Zimbabwe in this match.
Zimbabwe’s final match in this group will be against Scotland at the same venue on Friday.
ICC MEN’S T20 WORLD CUP GROUP B POINTS TABLE: