BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, CMC – Shai Hope’s maiden one-day hundred proved in vain as West Indies amazingly squandered an ideal opportunity for a second straight win in the Tri-Nations Series, by playing to a nerve-jangling tie with Zimbabwe here yesterday.
Requiring a mere four runs from the last over in pursuit of 258 for victory at Queens Sports Club, the Caribbean side dramatically lost three wickets while scoring just three runs, as they reluctantly secured their share of history in the 34th tie in One-Day Internationals.
The task appeared a simple one when captain Jason Holder (4 not out) took a single to cover off the first ball of the over from seamer Donald Tiripano (2-26) but Carlos Brathwaite then lost the plot off the second delivery, holing out to long on for nine.
Off the very next delivery, Ashley Nurse was run out at the non-striker’s end without facing a ball, after Holder struck a first drive back to Tiripano who unintentionally parried the ball onto the stumps with Nurse short of his ground.
With victory now becoming increasingly complicated, Holder scrambled a leg bye off the fourth delivery and left-hander Jonathan Carter (1) swung the penultimate delivery of the game to square leg for a single to bring the scores level.
Off the last ball of the contest, Holder missed a waft at a widish full-length delivery and scampered off for a bye but wicketkeeper Peter Moor threw down the stumps to foil Carter’s dash to safety at the striker’s end, leaving Zimbabwe to celebrate a share of the points.
All told, the Windies lost their last six wickets for 37 runs in the space of 32 balls, in a stunning collapse.
They continued at the top of the standings on seven points, two clear of Sri Lanka, while Zimbabwe picked up their first points of the campaign to remain bottom on two points.
No such finish was envisioned when Hope was cruising to a superb top score of 101 off 120 balls in only his second One-Day International.
He put on 162 for the third wicket with opener Kraigg Brathwaite who stroked 78 off 117 deliveries, in a partnership that appeared to have put West Indies in the driver’s seat at 220 for two in the 45th over.
The pair came together after opener Johnson Charles was lbw to Tiripano for 19 in the eighth over at 33 for one and when Evin Lewis (18) picked out Chamu Chibhabha on the square leg boundary off left-arm spinner Sean Williams (2-52) in the 12th over at 58 for two.
The right-handed Hope, who made his debut against Sri Lanka last Wednesday, played confidently throughout. He brought up his half-century off 69 balls in the 30th over and then celebrated with a pair of sixes off off-spinner Sikandar Raza – the last of which was a catch in the deep which was spoiled when Tiripano stepped on the ropes.
Hope was dropped again in the 34th over on 69 when Raza at cover spilled a regulation chance off leg-spinner Graeme Cremer, and was also missed on 84 in the deep by Raza off the same bowler.
The 23-year-old reached triple figures in the 45th over with a couple through mid-wicket off seamer Chris Mpofu but perished the very next ball, charging the bowler and edging a catch behind.
Brathwaite, whose fifty had earlier come from 89 balls, departed at the start of the 48th when he holed out to long-off off Williams, and the Windies lost their second wicket of the over when Rovman Powell was yorked for 17, three balls later at 242 for five.
Carlos Brathwaite kept the Windies hopes of victory alive with a six over mid-wicket off the final ball of the penultimate over from Mpofu, before the panic set in.
Earlier, Craig Ervine hammered 92 from 100 balls while Sikandar Raza struck 77 from 81 deliveries, to rescue Zimbabwe after they had slumped to 46 for two in the 14th over, on choosing to bat first.
The innings was built on the pair’s third wicket partnership of 144 and once the stand was broken, the last eight wickets tumbled for just 67 runs.
Carlos Brathwaite finished with career-best figures four for 48 while fellow seamers Shannon Gabriel (2-45) and Holder (2-47) claimed two wickets apiece.
West Indies take on Sri Lanka in their game next Wednesday at the same venue.