Zimbabwe missed a great opportunity to secure their ticket to the Super 12 stage of the ICC T20 World Cup after succumbing to a 31-run defeat to the West Indies in their second Group B match at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart, Australia on Wednesday.
After defeating Ireland by a similar margin in their opening match on Monday, the Chevrons knew that a win against a wounded West Indies side, who lost to Scotland on the same day, would be enough to punch their ticket to the Super 12.
Despite bossing the match for long periods Zimbabwe’s hopes were dashed after West Indies paceman Alzarri took four wickets for 16 runs to help dismiss them for 122 with 10 balls remaining in Hobart.
The Windies had earlier reached 153-7 after a mid-innings collapse saw them lose four wickets for 11 runs.
The result means all four teams in Group B have two points after Ireland beat Scotland earlier on Wednesday.
Friday’s deciding final round of matches sees Ireland face West Indies at 0600 CAT, before Scotland take on Zimbabwe at 1000 CAT.
The top two sides from each group will qualify for the Super 12s, which start on Saturday. The winner of Group A and runner-up from Group B will go into a group including England, Afghanistan, Australia and New Zealand.
With rain forecast for Hobart on Friday, if both matches are washed out then Scotland and Zimbabwe will progress.
Scotland top the table courtesy of their superior net run rate ahead of Zimbabwe, with West Indies third and Ireland fourth.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, West Indies looked in a strong position at 90-2 after 12 overs, but the innings turned in a chaotic 11-ball spell.
First, captain Nicholas Pooran shuffled down the track and gifted Sean Williams a simple routine caught and bowled chance, before a terrible mix-up saw Johnson Charles run out for 45 five balls later.
The impressive Sikandar Raza, who took 3-19, then trapped Shamarh Brooks bang in front, before Jason Holder chipped straight to the Zimbabwe spinner to leave West Indies reeling on 101-6
The Windies had Rovman Powell (28 off 21 balls) and Akeal Hosein (23 not out off 18) to thank for a spritely partnership worth 49 from 28 balls to drag them up to a competitive total.
Powell, who was dropped on 11, brought up the West Indies 150 in the final over with two meaty sixes, the second of which went out of the stadium.
In reply, Zimbabwe raced to 29-0 after two overs to put them ahead in the chase.
An awful fumble by Charles summed up West Indies’ early efforts in the field and the body language of the players suggested they were contemplating defeat.
But Joseph dragged them back into the game with the wickets of Regis Chakabva and Tony Munyonga in the powerplay.
Zimbabwe then collapsed, losing five wickets for 32 runs, including the dangerous Raza for 14, to slump to 79-6.
Luke Jongwe’s lively 29 from 22 balls gave Zimbabwe hope, but when he became the fourth batter to be clean bowled by Joseph the game was up, with Holder taking the final wicket to complete figures of 3-12.
“Since the beginning of the year Alzarri Joseph has been our best bowler in T20 cricket,” said Pooran. “He’s our leader, getting wickets for us and bringing that energy.”
Chakabva, who led Zimbabwe in place of the ill Craig Ervine, said: “Credit to West Indies and Alzarri Joseph. He really opened up the gates for them and bowled brilliantly.
“The boys are still pretty confident. We’re disappointed how short we ended up being after such a good start but we’ll look to bounce back on Friday.”