Windies hunt four in a row
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC):
West Indies will chase their fourth win in a row today when they face Zimbabwe in the final one-day international (ODI) of the five-match series.
With their early series slump now seemingly over, the regional side will be backing themselves to see off the tourists who have proven a feisty unit, especially with their clever spin-based attack.
West Indies took an unbeatable 3-1 series lead on Friday when they won by four wickets but will want to maintain a winning streak, which did not seem likely after they lost the first two matches of the tour.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, will be hoping to end their tour in the same vein in which it started - with a victory over the hosts - but that prospect now appears slim, especially if Arnos Vale produces another seamer-friendly pitch.
On Friday, the Windies' faster bowlers all revelled in the generous pace, bounce and movement the wicket served up, and if this is the case again, Zimbabwe are likely to struggle.
They will be disappointed by the series result, especially after they started with a shock 26-run win in the one-off Twenty20 International in Trinidad and Tobago and followed that up with a tense two-run triumph in the first ODI in Guyana days later.
West Indies will want to use this final ODI to brush up on their batting, which has been a letdown in the series.
They failed miserably to overhaul Zimbabwe's 254 in the first game, struggled to an unimpressive four-wicket win with 13 balls to spare in chasing down 206 in the second game, before scrambling 245 for nine in the third match, batting first.
Set a paltry 142 to win the fourth game on Friday, West Indies made heavy weather of the run chase before winning by four wickets.
The Windies have suffered from an impotent middle order. While the top order with captain Chris Gayle, Adrian Barath and Shiv Chanderpaul have been among the runs, the other batsmen have failed to live up to expectations.
Gayle has been the leading batsman with scores of 57, 88, 33 and 32, teenage opener Adrian Barath has got starts with knocks of 50, 7, 35 and 25, while the experienced Shiv Chanderpaul has got two half-centuries in four innings.
Zimbabwe's batting, too, has been their letdown. Their leading batsmen, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor and Stuart Matsikenyeri, have all struggled badly.