Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE will have to fight another day in their quest for a place at next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup after they stumbled for the first time in the qualifying tournament yesterday with a four-wicket loss to the West Indies in a thrilling Super Six match at Harare Sports Club.
The Chevrons, who had made a strong start with the bat after putting on 289 runs in their allotted 50 overs, could not defend their total as the Windies rallied back to 290/6 and claim a crucial win with one over remaining.
The defeat brought to an end Zimbabwe’s unbeaten run in the history of the tournament spread over three decades.
Brendan Taylor (138) had put the Chevrons in a comfortable position with a quality century knock that was spiced up by some brilliant shots to help stabilise the team following a slow start.
The Chevrons now have to wait a bit longer to know their fate in the competition.
Zimbabwe face United Arab Emirates in their final Super Six match on Thursday, a day after West Indies and Scotland have clashed in another tie.
At the conclusion of the Super Six stage, only two teams will claim the tickets to the ICC World Cup 2019 to be hosted by England and Wales.
Zimbabwe are currently second in the table with five points, the same with Scotland who also still fancy their chances.
West Indies took control of the race with the win over Zimbabwe yesterday and are now on six points ahead of the last group matches.
But the encouraging thing for Zimbabwe is that the Windies and Scotland will cancel each other out while they target a win against one of the minnows in this Super Six Qualifier, UAE.
Zimbabwe won the toss yesterday and chose to bat first.
The Chevrons, however, got their innings to a disappointing start after their top order was rattled with the loss of opener Cephas Zhuwao (0), Hamilton Masakadza (7) and Solomon Mire who temporarily retired hurt after he was hit on the helmet by Jason Holder’s bouncer.
Taylor found able company on the crease in the form of Sean Williams, after Craig Ervine had fallen to Roach, to leave Zimbabwe on 79/3.
Williams quickfire 34 from 31 balls gave the Zimbabwe innings some impetus as he teamed up with Taylor for a 76-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Mire, who was hurt on the face, returned to take his tally to 45 runs in the later stages of the game and he faced 33 balls in all as Zimbabwe put up a competitive total.
Taylor’s knock comprised 20 fours and two sixes.
It was a special innings for Zimbabwe which even gave them the platform to bat through their innings after it had looked like they may struggle to play the entire 50 overs at some stage.
But Windies skipper Holder (4/35) and Roach’s 3/55 kept Zimbabwe in check before a late flourish from Taylor who reached his 10th ODI century, the highest by any Zimbabwean cricketer.
The West Indies demonstrated their batting prowess despite losing their main man Chris Gayle (17) who became Blessing Muzarabani’s first victim after he was caught at third man.
With Gayle gone, Evin Lewis (64) and Shai Hope (76) then combined to frustrate the home side and the vociferous crowd behind them when they put on 72 for the second wicket.
Raza gave the Chevrons a ray of hope when he clutched onto a return catch from his own bowling to get Lewis out and leave the scoreboard reading 110/2 after 21.2 overs.
But then Marlon Samuel’s man-of-the-match knock of 86 runs virtually put the game to bed by the time he was caught behind by Taylor to leave the scores at 243/3 with just over six overs to play. The Windies lost two more wickets along the way but Rovman Powell (15) and Ashley Nurse still saw them home with six balls remaining.