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West Indies stay alive in race to Super 12s with 31-run win over Zimbabwe

Hobart : Fast bowling duo of Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder shared seven wickets between themselves as two-time champions West Indies defeated Zimbabwe by 31 runs in a must-win Group B match in the first round of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at Bellerive Oval on Wednesday to stay alive in the pursuit of making the Super 12 stage.

After making 153/7 in their 20 overs, with Sikandar Raza’s brilliant 3/19 causing a middle-order meltdown, West Indies didn’t have a good start to their defence as Zimbabwe’s stand-in captain Regis Chakabva hit three fours in an 18-run opening over off Kyle Mayers. Joseph, who took career-best figures of 4/14 in his four overs, struck in his second over after conceding 11 runs in the opening over as Chakabva chopped on to his stumps.

Wesley Madhevere hit two fours and a six in his 19-ball 27, but was losing partners from other end as Joseph shattered Tony Munyonga’s stumps with a pacy yorker while Obed McCoy had Sean Williams chasing a drive and nicking behind to keeper. Holder, who took 3/12, got Madhevere out when he sliced to backward point timing his catch to perfection.

The turning point of the match came when an in-form Raza mistimed his slap over the off-side to mid-off moving to his left off Odean Smith in the eighth over. From there, despite some resistance from Ryan Burl (17) and Luke Jongwe (29), who hit 17 runs in the 17th over off Smith, Zimbabwe crashed to 122 all out in 18.2 overs, giving the West Indies a much-needed victory in the tournament, as seen from the jubilant celebrations after the win was confirmed in their favour.

Earlier, electing to bat first, West Indies started well despite losing Mayers in the fourth over, who top-edged a pull to keeper off Blessing Muzarabani. Johnson Charles (45) and Evin Lewis (15) shared a vital 49-run stand off 38 balls to get the West Indies innings back on track.

But Zimbabwe’s introduction of Raza from the seventh over triggered a West Indies meltdown in the middle-order. The off-spin all-rounder had his first scalp in the tenth over when Lewis holed out to long-on. Captain Nicholas Pooran was next to depart, falling to Williams, chipping back a simple catch to the bowler.

West Indies were then dealt with a severe blow when Charles departed for 45 after a mix-up with Rovman Powell, resulting in a run-out. Raza added more misery when he trapped Shamrah Brooks lbw and took a superb catch off a Jason Holder chip on his own bowling to end with 3/19 in his four overs.

Struggling at 101/6, a late flourish from Powell (28 off 21 balls, including two sixes in the final over) and Akeal Hosein (23 not out off 18 balls) allowed the West Indies to cross the 150-mark, after losing their way in the middle post a strong start.

With all four teams in Group B of the first round having two points each, the net run rate will become a factor in deciding the top two finishers, especially with rain threat looming on last two matches to be held on Friday. Currently, Scotland and Zimbabwe are in the top two with West Indies and Ireland at third and fourth place respectively.

Brief Scores: West Indies 153/7 in 20 overs (Johnson Charles 45, Rovman Powell 28; Sikandar Raza 3/19, Blessing Muzarabani 2/38) beat Zimbabwe 122 all out in 18.2 overs (Luke Jongwe 29, Wesley Madhevere 27; Alzarri Joseph 4/16, Jason Holder 3/12) by 31 runs

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