HOBART (AUSTRALIA): A fiery four-wicket spell from pace bowler Alzarri Joseph helped the two-time champion West Indies storm past Zimbabwe by 31 runs to keep their Twenty20 World Cup dreams alive on Wednesday, while Ireland upset Scotland.
After being shocked by Scotland in their opening match on Monday, the West Indies had no margin for error if they wanted to stay in the hunt for a place in the Super 12 stage.
And they accomplished the feat at Bellerive Oval in Hobart with 10 balls to spare, dismissing Zimbabwe for 122 after setting them 154 to win.
The dangerous Joseph was instrumental, taking 4-16 while Jason Holder chipped in with 3-12 to rescue them after another batting collapse after they won the toss and chose to bat.
“We are learning together and that’s what’s important,” said West Indies skipper Nicholas Pooran.
“Jason put his hand up as our most experienced bowler here so it’s nice to see him performing the way he is. Alzarri Joseph, it’s not just now but since the beginning of the year he’s been our best bowler in T20 cricket.”
The victory means they meet Ireland on Friday with the winner going through to the next round when the big guns join the tournament, while Zimbabwe face Scotland in a winner-takes-all tie.
Ireland stayed in contention with a stunning six-wicket upset of the Scots with George Dockrell and Curtis Campher starring in a 119-run partnership after they looked out for the count.
Zimbabwe were without captain Craig Ervine who suffered a “mild asthmatic attack” before the game and the West Indies were aggressive early on.
But they paid the price with Kyle Mayers (13) top edging Blessing Muzarabani to wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva, who was deputising as skipper.
Johnson Charles unleashed in the ninth over, hitting 6-4-4 off Ryan Burl to get the scoreboard moving before Evin Lewis (15) was out and Pooran (7) fell soon after.
When Charles was comically run out for 45 in a mix-up with Rovman Powell, they were reeling.
Zimbabwe kept the pressure on and Sikander Raza trapped Shamarah Brooks lbw then caught and bowled Holder with the West Indies losing four wickets for 11 runs in 12 balls to leave them on 101-6.
Powell (28) and Akeal Hosein (23 not out) threw the bat in a late flourish to ensure they set a competitive target.
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In reply, Zimbabwe slammed 18 in a nightmare first over from Mayers.
Undeterred, the Caribbean side made a breakthrough in the third over when Regis Chakabva dragged the ball onto his stumps off Joseph.
Joseph took his second with a lightning delivery to remove Tony Munyonga and Sean Williams fell two balls later as the pressure began building.
Allrounder Raza slammed 82 off 48 balls in Zimbabwe’s first match on Monday, but he was out for 14 and when Joseph came back in the attack he shattered the stumps of Richard Ngarava and Luke Jongwe to end any hope they had.
In the earlier game, Scotland powered to 176-5 — the tournament’s highest score so far on the back of 86 from Michael Jones — for what looked like a winning total.
When they reduced the Irish to 65-4 after 10 overs it looked all over.
But Campher (69 off 32 balls) and Dockrell (39 off 27) came to the crease and unleashed some fireworks to steer them home against the odds with an over to spare.
“Pretty special, I can’t remember a more important partnership,” said Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie after their highest ever successful run chase at a World Cup.
“We have played some great cricket throughout the year, only to fall away towards the end, but credit to the guys for the partnership.”
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