After Zimbabwe's surprise win in the first ODI, the series took a predictable turn as West Indies, led by their seamers, overpowered the home side for the second successive game to record a six-wicket win in Harare. Zimbabwe were made to fight against the tide from the time they lost the toss, with the overcast conditions helping the West Indies bowlers skittle Zimbabwe for 139, a total that was never sufficient, considering that batting became easier in the afternoon.
Runako Morton and Dwayne Bravo, the stand-in captain in place of the injured Chris Gayle, then helped the visitors ease to the target with 133 balls to spare.
After overnight rain forced a delayed start, the pitch had encouraging bounce and carry throughout. The Zimbabwe batsmen got little respite with the West Indian pace trio of Ravi Rampaul, Jerome Taylor and Daren Powell getting the ball to bounce, swing and cut, inducing several edges to the slip cordon. Zimbabwe's mercurial top order struggled in conditions that tested their concentration and foot work.
Both sides were sluggish at the start, with a number of wides from the bowlers accompanied by several careless swishes outside off from the Zimbabwe batsmen. When West Indies managed to land it correctly, though, there was always a wicket for the taking.
Vusi Sibanda swung too early at one that kicked off a good length and the top edge was gobbled up by Denesh Ramdin. Brendan Taylor was squared up by one that cut in sharply after pitching, while Chamu Chibhabha failed to counter the away movement, getting a thick outside edge to Devon Smith at second slip, and everything pointed towards a top-order collapse.
Tatenda Taibu was the only player who came to terms with the conditions, square driving Powell, slashing Taylor over point, and later greeting Bravo with a cover drive. Just when Zimbabwe had started showing signs of a revival, Hamilton Masakadza perished edging to slip while Taibu was squared up by one that straightened after pitching, giving Rawl Lewis his first wicket. Lewis then sent back Stuart Matsikenyeri, who edged to slip, and there was further disaster when Elton Chigumbura, a capable lower-order batman, got a thick inside edge onto his pad which lobbed to Runako Morton at slip. Ninety-two for 6 quickly became 97 for 7, when Smith intercepted a full-blooded cover drive off Matsikenyeri, completing a one-handed blinder to his right.
The lower order offered little resistance, with Jerome Taylor mopping up the last two wickets to finish with miserly figures of 3 for 18, leaving Keith Dabengwa stranded on an unbeaten 27.
In reply, West Indies lost Devon Smith early - caught at mid-off trying to loft Chigumbura - in the five-over period before the scheduled lunch break. Debutant opener Brenton Parchment eased two consecutive fours in the mid-off region, but squandered an opportunity to make an impressive start to his career by edging to Taibu for 15.
Morton, following his 79 in the second one-dayer, went into cruise control, striking six boundaries while Shivnarine Chanderpaul played second fiddle at the other end. Morton wasn't afraid to loft through the line over the off side, taking on Chigumbura and Ray Price. He paid the price for a bit of overconfidence, trying to launch Utseya over long-on when the going was strong. Marlon Samuels was also deceived by Utseya's flight and for the first time, the spirits perked up in the Zimbabwe camp.
West Indies' propensity to collapse when least expected didn't deter Bravo, who decided to launch Chigumbura for consecutive sixes over the off side. He ended the chase in a flourish, whipping Gary Brent for two fours past square leg, rounding off a perfect start as captain.