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West Indies Fall Short by Five Runs

Zimbabwe batsman Sikanda Raza Butt (C) celebrates a wicket during the sixth match in the Blue Mountain Achilleion tri-series played between West Indies and hosts Zimbabwe at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, November 25, 2016. / AFP / Jekesai Njikizana (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)
(www.espncricinfo.com)Zimbabwe 218 for 8 (Raza 76*, Chisoro 42*, Nurse 3-27, Bishoo 3-30) beat West Indies 124 for 5 (Carter 43*, Williams 2-18, Chisoro 2-23) by 5 runs (D/L method)

Zimbabwe fought back from the brink to beat West Indies by five runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method in Bulawayo. The spirited come-from-behind victory gave Zimbabwe a berth in tri-series final, where they will play Sri Lanka on November 27.

The cornerstone of Zimbabwe’s comeback was the unbroken 91-run ninth-wicket partnership between Sikandar Raza and Tendai Chisoro, which lifted the home side to 218. That stand came on the back of a 38-run eighth-wicket stand between Raza and Donald Tiripano, after Zimbabwe had slipped to 89 for 7. West Indies were set a target of 219 in 49 overs, since a rain break during Zimbabwe’s innings had shortened the match.

Having rescued Zimbabwe with the bat, Raza and Chisoro began proceedings with the ball – only the third time in ODIs that Zimbabwe opened with spin at both ends. Chisoro had Johnson Charles caught and bowled off the fourth ball of the innings, and trapped Evin Lewis lbw in his next over. Sean Williams bowled first change and Graeme Cremer second change as Zimbabwe continued to squeeze West Indies with spin.

It was Williams who got the next wicket when Shai Hope, driving with hard hands, could only edge the ball to Hamilton Masakadza at first slip. Just as West Indies seemed to be recovering, Kraigg Brathwaite was run out by a direct hit after the batsmen attempted a tight single. Williams got his second wicket when Rovman Powell holed out to Craig Ervine at long-off. West Indies were 93 for 5 in the 23rd over at that stage, well behind the D/L par score even as play went on under a steady drizzle.

While Jonathan Carter batted on for his unbeaten 56-ball 43 and Jason Holder hit 22 off 17 to add quick runs, West Indies were still five short of the D/L par when rain intervened in the 28th over, with the score at 124 for 5. That proved to be the end of the match and West Indies were left to rue another match that had slipped from their grasp.

Earlier, after a rain break had interrupted Zimbabwe’s innings at 48 for 1, Devendra Bishoo and Ashley Nurse tore through the middle order, engineering a collapse of 6 for 41. On the third ball after the resumption, Bishoo bowled a full ball into the blockhole that beat Hamilton Masakadza’s defences. Then, batsman after batsman demonstrated poor technique against spin to send the innings into a downward spiral. Brian Chari, Peter Moor and Cremer all rocked back and played cross-batted shots to deliveries that should have had them playing forward. They were all bowled. Ervine and Williams both played forward, but the former was beaten by the turn and trapped in front, while the latter could only manage a fine edge through to the keeper.

Between them, Bishoo and Nurse took 6 for 57 in their 20 overs. But, just when it seemed that Zimbabwe would slump to a double-figure total, Raza and Tiripano started the counterattack against the seamers. Holder bounced Tiripano out to end the pesky eighth-wicket stand, but that only paved the way for an even thornier stand that frustrated West Indies even as it revived Zimbabwe.

Raza and Chisoro built their partnership on ones and twos, minimising risk as they looked to bat out the overs. With two overs to go, though, they both cut loose – Raza creamed two fours through the cover region, while Chisoro unleashed two mighty pulls for six. The pair plundered 29 runs off the last two overs to send Zimbabwe into the interval on a high. That high extended into their bowling and fielding, before the intervention of the elements sealed the hosts’ well-deserved win.

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