Bulawayo: Tendai Chisoro played a crucial role with bat and ball as Zimbabwe staged a remarkable comeback to stun the West Indies in Friday’s one-day international at Queens Sports Club and qualify for the triangular series final.
In a rain-affected match, Chisoro scored an unbeaten 42 and then claimed figures of 2 for 23 in six overs to help Zimbabwe recover from a disastrous position and win by five runs on Duckworth-Lewis method.
As a result, Zimbabwe qualified for Sunday’s final against Sri Lanka with their first win of the tournament, while the West Indies were forced to head home after losing two close games and tying another.
Such an outcome seemed highly improbable when West Indian spin duo Devendra Bishoo and Ashley Nurse picked up three wickets apiece to reduce Zimbabwe to 89 for seven.
The hosts made a solid start after winning the toss and electing to bat, only for a rain delay upset their momentum and reduce the game to 49 overs per side.
Bishoo bowled Hamilton Masakadza and Brian Chari after the resumption, before Nurse dismissed left-handers Craig Ervine and Sean Williams in the same over to leave Zimbabwe 63 for five.
With Peter Moor and Graeme Cremer also succumbing to the spinners, Zimbabwe lost six wickets for 41 runs in 15 overs after the rain delay and looked destined for a low total.
Yet Sikandar Raza Butt found support in Donald Tiripano, with the pair adding 38 for the eighth wicket, and then formed a match-winning partnership with Chisoro.
The duo scored 50 runs from the final five overs of the innings on their way to an unbroken partnership of 91 -- a Zimbabwean record for the ninth wicket in ODIs -- as Sikandar Raza finished unbeaten on 76 and Chisoro made a career-best 42 not out.
"We were really under the pump with the bat at one stage, but that partnership at the end to get us up to 218 was outstanding," said Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer.
"Then the guys came out and showed great intensity with the ball."
Zimbabwe started their defence with 21 overs of spin, and the plan paid off.
Chisoro struck twice in his first 11 deliveries, and with the other spinners maintaining the pressure, the West Indians sunk to 93 for five and found themselves behind the Duckworth-Lewis curve with the rain closing in once more.
Although Jonathan Carter made 42 not out and Jason Holder tried to pull the game back with a late flurry of boundaries, the West Indies could not get back in front before the umpires took the players off the field midway through the 28th over.
"We’re disappointed about not being able to finish off the game," said Holder. "We lacked the killer instinct, but we're trying to gel together as a team."