A brutal 85 off 79 deliveries from opener Chris Gayle helped the West Indies book their place in the final of the triangular series with an eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe here yesterday.
The Africans were in trouble from the start and struggled to a modest 154 all out thanks largely to a battling 57 from all-rounder Heath Streak. But it never looked like being enough as Gayle's display of power-hitting helped the Windies reach their target with 16 of their 50 overs remaining.
Zimbabwe stumbled as early as the second over when Grant Flower was cleaned bowled for three by Pedro Collins. Things went from bad to worse for Stuart Carlisle's side as memories of last weekend's capitulation against Sri Lanka – when they were bowled out for a world-record 38 – came flooding back.
Of the top seven batsmen only wicketkeeper Andy Flower, who scored 21 off 47 deliveries, made more than six runs to leave Zimbabwe in a perilous position on 53 for 7. Streak dug in with fellow fast bowler Travis Friend to lead the way in a 60-run partnership.
When Friend was stumped by Ridley Jacobs off part-time off-spinner Gayle for 22, Streak carried on with Gary Brent to pass the 150-mark. Brent contributed 19 off 25 deliveries but he and Streak departed within seven balls as the Windies wrapped up the innings.
Even without the injured Brian Lara in their line-up it was a total that looked there for the taking for Carl Hooper's men. And after the early loss of Daren Ganga for 15, caught behind off Streak, Gayle seized the opportunity with both hands.
Criticised after three ducks in the series defeat to Sri Lanka, Gayle was exorcising his demons off every loose ball. Friend was hit for 16 in one over, Henry Olonga for 20 in the next, and the fact that Ramnaresh Sarwan contributed just 14 to a second-wicket stand of 106 bears witness to Gayle's one-man show.
When Gayle, the man of the match, did go, having hit 17 fours and a six, Sarwan (30no) and Ryan Hinds (16no) completed the formalities. But by then the Windies were already looking ahead to Wednesday's final.Reuse content