The inability of the West Indies team to pull through in two consecutive close games has turned the final league game of the tri-nation series, involving Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, into a virtual semifinal.

West Indies, who take on Zimbabwe at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Thursday (November 25), are second on the table with seven points from three games. Zimbabwe, who haven’t notched a win in the series so far, are third with four points — courtesy a wash out and a tied match.

A win for Zimbabwe will see them pick up at least four points and make it to the November 27 final.

It won’t be an easy task for Zimbabwe, but considering how close they came to defeating the former World Champions, they will be amped to come through in front of their home fans.

In the third game of the tri-series, Zimbabwe put up a healthy 257. They looked well and truly out of the contest as West Indies’s top order fired in haste, but a clinical effort with the ball towards the end saw the game ending in a thrilling tie.

West Indies, who had gotten off to a solid start to the tournament with a bonus point win over Sri Lanka, had to settle for two points in that match against Zimbabwe. To make matters worse for West Indies, they stuttered at the finish line against Sri Lanka to down by one run in pursuit of 331 on Tuesday.

While their finishing touch needs a little work and their bowling unit needs to tighten up, West Indies will be happy with how their top order has performed. They had Shai Hope and Evin Lewis come up with solid centuries in a couple of games. Still, their middle and lower order is a concern despite possessing names like Jonathan Carter and Carlos Brathwaite.

Jason Holder’s men have plenty of holes to plug if they harbour hopes of making it to the final. Fortunately, it’s none more than what Zimbabwe have to do.

The home team’s batting has not exuded confidence. They have had batsmen getting off to starts, but none stuck around long enough to stay the distance. For the bowlers, although they can hold their own against batsmen prone to playing across the line, they will need to find a way to break partnerships.
Part reason for letting batsmen settle is Zimbabwe’s less than impressive showing on the field. Dropped catches, missed run out chances and dismal ground fielding has seen games slip out of their hands at crucial junctures.

Given the tendency of these sides to err more than they should at this level, it will come down to which side makes fewer mistakes.

Teams (from):
Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (capt), Hamilton Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda, Malcolm Waller, Chamu Chibhabha, Peter Moor (wk), Elton Chigumbura, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Tendai Chisoro, Brian Chari, Carl Mumba, Christopher Mpofu, Tinashe Panyangara.

West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Sulieman Benn, Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope (wk), Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell.