Antigua: Lendl Simmons' third half-century and an unbroken 85-run third-wicket partnership with Dwayne Bravo guided the West Indies to an eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe in first T20 international on Saturday.
Replying to Zimbabwe's 130 for eight, the opening batsman smashed six sixes, the last ending the match at the start of the 17th over, in finishing on 63 not out and taking the man of the match award for the world champions. Bravo (38 not out) benefitted from a missed run out opportunity at the start of his innings to ensure that the early strikes of medium-fast bowler Chris Mpofu did not result in an upset win for the visitors.
Mpofu trapped Johnson Charles leg-before after the opener had taken five consecutive fours off fellow opening bowler Kyle Jarvis and then removed Darren Bravo without scoring to a miscued pull off a short ball. Dwayne Bravo should have been run out shortly after but Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor failed to hold on to a return with the all-rounder short of his ground.
Earlier, Malcolm Waller fell one run short of a maiden T20 half-century and fast bowler Tino Best claimed three wickets to limit Zimbabwe. Waller and Craig Ervine put on 60 for the fourth wicket, a new Zimbabwe T20 record, after Best had made early inroads, removing the opening pair of Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza.
Taylor, who once again called correctly at the toss and chose to take first strike, continued his poor run on the tour with the bat, falling without scoring to a catch at the wicket off Samuel Badree. Sunil Narine again proved a challenge for the tourists with his spin variations, claiming two wickets for 17 runs while Dwayne Bravo, who captained the West Indies to a 3-0 sweep of the one-day international series, took two wickets off the final over of the innings, both to catches by Andre Russell on the midwicket boundary
The second and final match of the Twenty20 series takes place at the same Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Sunday.