THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Lendl Simmons smashed six sixes in an unbeaten 63 as West Indies powered to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the opening Twenty20 at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Saturday.
The opener, who faced 49 balls, paced the host’s chase of a modest Zimbabwe total of 130-8 off 20 overs.
Simmons shared an unbroken, match-winning partnership of 85 with fellow Trinidadian, Dwayne Bravo, as the hosts raced to 131-2 off 16.1 overs. Bravo contributed 38 not out off 30 balls.
Earlier, Zimbabwe was restricted by fast bowler Tino Best’s 3-18 and ace spinner Sunil Narine’s 2-17.
Allrounder Bravo took two wickets in the final over to claim 2-16.
Malcolm Waller top-scored for the visitors with 49 off 34 balls, striking four fours and two sixes.
He shared a fourth-wicket stand of 60 with left-hander Craig Ervine, who supplied 34 off 39 deliveries.
Zimbabwe won its fourth toss in a row but was quickly in trouble after deciding to bat.
Best was fast and furious and claimed Vusi Sibanda (13) to a catch at third man.
Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor fell for a duck, trying an innovative reverse scoop to his third ball and deflecting to the wicketkeeper off Samuel Badree.
When Hamilton Masakadza was dismissed by a one-handed stunner by Kieron Pollard over his head at backward point off Best, the visitors were 28-3 in the fifth over.
Waller and Ervine gave the innings some backbone in a record fourth-wicket stand for the Zimbabweans.
But Narine claimed both in the closing overs to further stall the visitors.
Ervine was stumped by yards while Waller bowled as he tried to hit over the off side.
West Indies’ reply was revved up by Johnson Charles, who lashed five successive fours in Kyle Jarvis’ second over.
But when seamer Chris Mpofu trapped Charles lbw and soon had Darren Bravo caught off a top-edge, Zimbabwe sensed an opportunity at 46-2 in the sixth over.
But they missed the chance to run out Dwayne Bravo early in his innings when Brendan Taylor dropped a return from Chamu Chibhabha, the match slipped away quickly.
Simmons, part of the World Twenty20-winning side last October without playing a match, cleared the legside field by some margin once the spinners came on.
The right-hander collected his third half-century at this level and eventually finished the match in style with a straight hit for six off Jarvis.
Bravo hit three fours and one six and played a valuable role in the assured partnership.
The second and final match is at the same venue on Sunday.