Simmons stars in Windies win
Lendl Simmons inspired West Indies to an eight-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the first of two Twenty20 international matches at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
The Windies whitewashed the tourists in the one-day international series and carried that form into today, with Simmons blasting an unbeaten 63 off 49 balls to comfortably lead his side to a victory target of 131 in the 17th over.
Zimbabwe had earlier limped to 130 for eight. That they reached anything approaching a competitive total was largely due to Malcolm Waller and Craig Ervine, who struck 49 and 34 respectively.
They did get off to a decent start after winning the toss, opener Vusi Sibanda hitting three fours before he lofted Tino Best to third man.
Captain Brendan Taylor lasted three balls prior to edging Samuel Badree behind, while Best picked up another scalp when Hamilton Masakadza directed a fierce blast to Kieron Pollard at backward point.
At 28 for three, Zimbabwe were in danger of collapsing but Ervine and Waller steadied the ship with a 60 partnership.
However, the former was stumped coming down the track to spinner Sunil Narine, who then bowled Waller one short of a deserved half-century.
Best, with 3-18, bowled Chamu Chibhabha, while Dwayne Bravo picked up two wickets as Zimbabwe’s hopes of a late burst petered out.
A cautious start in response, the Windies were boosted by some impressive hitting from opener Johnson Charles, who plundered five consecutive fours off the hapless Kyle Jarvis.
The opener was trapped lbw by Chris Mpofu but the Windies’ progress was not slowed, with Simmons heaving two sixes in three balls over long-on off Tinotenda Mutombodzi.
Darren Bravo gave Mpofu another wicket when he mis-directed a pull to mid-on to depart for a duck.
But his half-brother Dwayne, with 38 not out, proved a more calming influence in the middle. He and Simmons seemed content to keep the score ticking over early on before unfurling some lofty blows as the partnership progressed.
Simmons reached his fifty with a single into the leg side in the 14th over before sealing victory with a spectacular six - his sixth of his innings, with just one four - off Jarvis.