Charles, Darren Bravo tons set up massive WI win
West Indies 337 for 4 (Charles 130, Darren Bravo 100*, Powell 79) beat Zimbabwe 181 for 9 (Waller 51, Narine 3-28) by 156 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Zimbabwe won the toss, and West Indies everything following that, inflicting their heaviest defeat on the visitors in the first of three ODIs. They bludgeoned their way to a huge total after being asked to bat and then derailed the chase soon after it began. Johnson Charles led the assault with a superbly paced hundred that came on the back of his maiden century in Melbourne against Australia. West Indies had lost all five ODIs on that tour, but settled in at home against a friendly Zimbabwe attack. Kieran Powell did the early running in a mammoth opening stand with Charles and Darren Bravo rounded off a hopeless outing for Zimbabwe with serious big-hitting towards the end that gave him his maiden ODI century.
Charles and Powell weren't tested much and received numerous loose deliveries in a century opening partnership - the first for West Indies in ODIs since May 2011 - that came at a healthy rate. Fast bowler Kyle Jarvis and legspinner Natsai Mushangwe, playing only his second ODI, were the only Zimbabwe bowlers who bothered West Indies to an extent. Jarvis began promisingly, his accuracy and slight movement in the air and off the pitch forcing the openers to be cautious. But Zimbabwe leaked runs consistently from the other end, and also conceded several boundaries through misfields in the deep.
Prosper Utseya opened with the second new ball and was hit out of the attack by Powell, who stepped out and lofted him over extra cover and straight down the ground. Mpofu replaced Utseya, and got the same treatment, as Powell lashed him through the off side for two fours in his opening over. Mpofu might have gone for more than the 20 runs he did from his first two overs but the outfield, heavy from overnight rain, ended up saving a few boundaries for Zimbabwe.
Brendan Taylor was forced to use his part-time bowlers early, although the legspinner Mushangwe did get some turn and bounce. The part-timers were bound to go for runs at some stage on the sedate pitch. Charles, dropped on 37 off a difficult, diving chance by Vusi Sibanda at midwicket off Utseya, cashed in against Hamilton Masakadza and Malcolm Waller. Cutting and sweeping for fours, he nudged past Powell's score.
Powell gave it away in the 29th over, top-edging a pull off a Mpofu half-tracker to deep square leg but Charles showed no signs of slowing down, heaving fours and sixes regularly. Darren Bravo arrived and played himself in for the batting Powerplay, which was to fetch 59 runs.
Taylor began the Powerplay with Mushangwe who was taken for a six each by Charles and Darren Bravo. Even as Darren Bravo continued to flay wide deliveries through the covers, Taylor turned to Jarvis who had Charles lbw on 117 with his second delivery, only for the decision to be overturned on review, with replays showing the ball headed down leg. Charles responded with more punishment for Mpofu before the seamer got a yorker right in the 39th over. Charles departed for 130 off 111 having converted a steady start into a sustained onslaught.
Darren Bravo was on 33 off 35 at this stage, and despite failures for the promoted Andre Russell and the stand-in captain Dwayne Bravo, he ensured West Indies did not slow down. Jarvis and Mpofu were taken apart with powerful straight hits as he went after everything, full, short, or good length.
Darren Bravo entered the last over on 92. He clubbed Jarvis to the deep midwicket rope to move to 99 off the penultimate ball and paddled the last, a slow bouncer, for a single to reach his hundred off just 71 deliveries, in his 48th ODI innings.
West Indies halted on 337, and Zimbabwe had shown on the field they were playing their first international game since the World Twenty20 last year. To expect a markedly improved performance with the bat would have been too much. Sunil Narine needed three deliveries to strike, and either side of his brace, Kemar Roach and Tino Best picked up a wicket each to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 34 for 4.
Sibanda, who had made 147 in the warm-up match, began promisingly as he pulled Roach for a couple of boundaries, but was given out leg-before to Roach in the fifth over. Replays showed the ball was missing leg stump, but Sibanda chose not to refer the decision.
In the next over, Chamu Chibhabha inside-edged a Narine offspinner off his pad to short leg and walked. Hamilton Masakadza mishit a pull off a Narine straighter one for Roach to pull off a running, diving stunner of a catch at long-on. Taylor lofted a drive off Best straight to mid-off.
Craig Ervine halted the frenetic slide with an innings that contained some crisp sweeps and reverse-sweeps. With Malcolm Waller blocking out one end, Zimbabwe were steady for a while but the asking-rate continued to shoot up.
As the partnership went past 50, Andre Russell was brought on, and in his first over, had Ervine spooning a drive to short extra cover to depart for 41. At 92 for 5, Zimbabwe's chief concern now would have been to lessen the severity of what looked set to be a crushing defeat.
Waller played his part in doing so, playing some stinging cover drives to make a fifty. Zimbabwe had the scant consolation of batting out 50 overs as No. 8 Utseya stonewalled his way to 18 off 67.
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo