Windies conquer crumbling Zimbabwe

KINGSTOWN: West Indies cantered to a four-wicket victory in the fifth and final one-day international on Sunday as Zimbabwe''s brittle batting line-up crumbled again.

As expected, the Zimbabweans failed to successfully defend a modest victory target of 162, and West Indies completed victory with 134 balls to spare, wrapping up the series 4-1.

Zimbabwe''s spin bowlers again mesmerised the West Indies'' batsman, but the result was secured when Denesh Ramdin pulled a short delivery from leg-spinner Timycen Maruma through mid-wicket for his only boundary in 21 not out.

It was the fourth straight defeat for Zimbabwe, after they won the first match in Guyana two runs.

They conceded the second ODI by four wickets last Sunday, slumped to a 141-run defeat last Wednesday in St Vincent, where they also lost by four wickets on Friday.

Zimbabwe have never beaten West Indies in a bilateral ODI series. "It''s been a long time since we last won a series, and it feels really, really good to have achieved this," said West Indies captain Chris Gayle, whose 63 from 41 balls set his side firmly on course for victory.

"It has been a total team effort because we started really badly, when we lost the first ODI. But for the guys to have bounced back, and won the series 4-1 was a tremendous effort, and I must commend them for the way they went about it."

Charles Coventry, playing for the first time in the series, struck five fours in the top score of 56 from 88 balls, but failed to save Zimbabwe from another batting collapse.

No other Zimbabwe batsman scored 20, and the visitors were dismissed for 161 from their full quota of 50 overs, after they were sent in to bat on another helpful Arnos Vale Multiplex pitch.

Zimbabwe were undone by Darren Sammy''s three wickets for 33 runs from his allotted 10 overs, and Ravi Rampaul''s two for 24 from his 10 overs that flattened their top-order batting.

"There were not enough runs on the board for us to be competitive," said Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya.

"We have been letting ourselves down terribly with our batting, but our bowlers have been bowling their hearts out throughout the series." He added: "We have to go back home and work very hard on our batting. It is important for the guys to take some lessons out of this."

Zimbabwe got a lesson from Gayle about destructive batting, when the West Indies captain smashed eight fours and two sixes to give his team a typically flourishing start.

Elton Chigumbura gave the Zimbabweans an early breakthrough, when he had Adrian Barath lbw for 14 in the fifth over.

The visitors were effectively put out of the match, when Gayle took control, and dominated a second wicket stand of 76 with Darren Bravo, West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo''s younger brother.

Gayle swept Utseya for a single to deep backward square leg to reach his 50 from 32 balls before he was caught at long-off from the off-spin of the Zimbabwe captain in the 16th over to leave West Indies to chase 66 from the remaining 208 balls.

Zimbabwe made things interesting, when they collected four more wickets, mainly through the recklessness of the West Indies batsmen.

The Zimbabweans'' scalps included Kieron Pollard, whose 36 from 20 balls included three fours and three sixes, and swung the match decisively before he was caught at long-off off left-arm spinner Ray Price with 13 required.