ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — Stroke-maker Ramnaresh Sarwan put to rest lingering fears about his future by crafting his first international century in nearly three years, as West Indies coasted to a an easy seven-wicket victory over Zimbabwe to take an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match one-day series here Sunday.
The 32-year-old, in an unfamiliar role of opener, finished unbeaten on 120 to carry West Indies to their target of 274 off 49 overs at the National Stadium.
He struck nine fours and two sixes in a composed innings that required 143 balls, recording his first three figure score since his even hundred against minnows Ireland in April, 2010 and his 15th overall in 178 ODIs.
His in-form opening partner Kieran Powell carved out 57 for his second half-century in as many innings while Narsingh Deonarine gathered 42 and Kieron Pollard bludgeoned an unbeaten 41, to see West Indies home.
Medium pacer Hamilton Masakadza was the African side’s best bowler with two for 27.
Earlier, the impressive Craig Ervine led three batsmen with half-centuries as Zimbabwe defied Dwayne Bravo’s six-wicket haul to rattle up a creditable 273 for eight.
Ervine, an attack-minded left-hander, crafted 80 from 85 balls while Masakadza stroked 60 and the elegant Vusi Sibanda, 51, in a decent showing by the visitors after they opted to bat first in great conditions.
Medium pacer Bravo collected career-best figures as he finished with six for 43 from his ten overs, to claim Man-of-the-Match honours.
Sibanda and Chamu Chibhabha (11) got Zimbabwe away to a slow but solid start, putting on 39 off 67 balls for the first wicket.
Off-spinner Sunil Narine deceived Chibhabha and bowled him in the 12th over, leading to a 37-run, second wicket stand between Sibanda and Masakadza.
The right-handed Sibanda was a show of class, collecting six fours and a six in a knock that required 63 balls while Masakadza faced 84 balls and struck two fours and two sixes.
Sibanda was looking to push on when he was bowled by Bravo’s second delivery of his opening spell, playing across a straight ball at 76 for two in the 19th over.
With no addition to the score two balls later, captain Brendan Taylor pushed forward and was adjudged lbw to leave Zimbabwe in a spot of bother.
Ervine and Masakadza then transformed the innings with a superb partnership of 110 for the fourth wicket, to haul Zimbabwe back into the contest.
From the outset, Ervine looked to get after the bowling and reeled off six fours and three sixes while Masakadza mixed caution with aggression.
When Masakadza skied an off-side catch to Narine off Bravo in the 41st over, the foundation was laid for a final assault and the Zimbabweans responded to gather 85 runs from the last nine overs.
This came through some lofty blows from Ervine and Malcolm Wallter, whose 26 came from 16 balls and included a four and two sixes.
Sarwan and Powell then put on a patient 111 for the first wicket, with Zimbabwe twice missing out on opportunities to break the partnership.
Powell was let off on five in the second over when Kyle Jarvis mis-judged a catch on the ropes at deep square leg off debutant seamer Tendai Chatara, and again on 11 in the fourth over when Sibanda pulled off a stunning catch at short cover only for replays to show that Chatara had overstepped.
Zimbabwe paid for their indiscretions as the left-hander proceeded to strike four fours and two sixes in a measured stand with Sarwan off 154 balls.
Sarwan, with just 19 runs from four innings since his recall to the side last month following an 18-month spell on the sidelines, paced his innings nicely.
He twice dispatched Chatara to the boundary in the sixth over, first with a superb cover drive and then a controlled pull, before settling down to post his half-century off 81 balls in the 28th over.
The right-hander had a slice of luck when 53, surviving a run out appeal that would have gone against him had it been referred, but kept his head down to reach his landmark in the 40th over.
He moved to 99 with a six off seamer Jarvis before taking a single down the ground a ball later.
The Windies’ only stumble came when Powell and Darren Bravo perished in the space of three deliveries in the 26th over, both caught at the wicket off Masakadza.
However, Sarwan put on 108 off 104 balls for the third wicket with Deonarine and a further 55 off 34 balls for the fourth wicket with Pollard.
The left-handed Deonarine struck one four and a six off 49 balls before he was run out by Prosper Utseya in the 44th over. At that stage, West Indies still required eight an over but Pollard settled any concerns with a savage 20-ball knock decorated by four fours and two sixes.
V Sibanda b DJ Bravo 51
CJ Chibhabha b Narine 11
H Masakadza c Narine b DJ Bravo 60
*+B Taylor lbw b DJ Bravo 0
C Ervine b DJ Bravo 80
M Waller b Roach 26
R Chakabva c Pollard b DJ Bravo 15
P Utseya not out 12
K Jarvis c DM Bravo b DJ Bravo 1
N Mushangwe not out 0
Extras (lb4, w12, nb1) 17
TOTAL (8 wkts, 50 overs) 273
Did not bat: T Chatara
Fall of wickets: 1-39 (Chibhabha, 11.1 overs), 2-76 (Sibanda, 18.2), 3-76 (Taylor, 18.4), 4-186 (Masakadza, 40.3), 5-232 (Waller, 45), 6-241 (Ervine, 45.4), 7-268 (Chakabva, 49.1), 8-271 (Jarvis, 49.5)
Bowling: Roach 10-1-63-1 (nb1), Best 10-0-53-0 (w4), Russell 6-0-29-0 (w1), Narine10-0-55-1, DJ Bravo 10-1-43-6 (w2), Pollard 2-0-15-0 (w1), Deonarie 2-0-11-0 (w2).
K Powell c wkp Taylor b Masakadza 57
R Sarwan not out 120
DM Bravo c wkp Taylor b Masakadza 0
N Deonarine run out 42
K Pollard not out 41
Extras (lb2, w11, nb1) 14
TOTAL (3 wkts, 49 overs) 274
Did not bat: *DJ Bravo, A Russell, +D Ramdin, K Roach, T Best, S Narine.
Fall of wickets: 1-111 (Powell, 25.4 overs), 2-111 (DM Bravo, 26), 3-219 (Deonarine, 43.2)
Bowling: Jarvis 9-1-55-0 (w1), Chatara 8-0-64-0 (w5, nb1), Chibhabha 5-0-25-0, Utseya 10-0-54-0 (w4), Masakadza 7-0-27-2, Mushangwe 10-0-47-0.
Result: West Indies won by seven wickets.
Series: West Indies lead three-match series 2-0.
Man-of-the-Match: Dwayne Bravo.
Umpires: J Cloete, P Nero; TV – I Gould