Rain washes out Zimbabwe's hopes
When West Indies set Zimbabwe a target of 264, even with a very scratchy bowling attack, few doubted they would win. But two overs into the Zimbabwe innings the heavens opened, and when play resumed Duckworth/Lewis presented them with a much more appealing ask of 184 off 28 overs with all their wickets intact.
Vusi Sibanda started briskly, but it was clear that attacking was alien to Terry Duffin, and after a few swiches - a couple of which were successful - he perished when he deflected a reverse sweep straight into the wicketkeeper's hands. He was soon followed by Piet Rinke, who must be desperate for this series to end. When you are out of form little goes right, and he was left high and dry by a call from Sibanda and a good one-handed pick-up from Brian Lara.
Brendan Taylor signalled his intent by lofting Chris Gayle for a straight six, and with the bowlers gifting wides - 13 in 12 overs - the unthinkable was becoming a possibility. Then, with Zimbabwe requiring 119 from almost 18 overs, the rain returned, only heavier, and that was that. Given their inability to chase anything over 200, this probably represented Zimbabwe's best chance of a win on this tour.
The first innings had been dominated by Morton's a start-stop hundred and some late hitting from the lower-middle order which enabled West Indies to post a respectable 263 for 6. The final score was good enough, but it was for long periods fairly unimpressive batting.
For a time Morton and Ramnaresh Sarwan appeared to be building another daunting total as Zimbabwe's pop-gun seamers haemorrhaged runs. The only surprise in the first 30 overs was that Gayle, who had been in such deadly form on Wednesday, missed out, playing round a straight ball from Tawanda Mupariwa early on. That aside, it was once again not so much a challenge for the West Indies batsmen as a glorified net.
Mupariwa apart, Zimbabwe's seamers were poor and lacked any threat, and their fielding, so good in the first three games, completely fell apart. Morton batted with authority, clipping the ball confidently off his legs and driving powerfully down the ground. Sarwan, content to play second fiddle, nevertheless found it easy to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
But the introduction of spin in the form of the increasingly impressive Prosper Utseya along with Ryan Higgins not only stemmed the flow, but also put the skids under the innings. Higgins removed Sarwan and a subdued Lara in quick succession, and with Morton becalmed as his hundred neared, West Indies almost ground to a halt. Between them, Higgins and Utseya only conceded one boundary in their 20 overs; there were 25 in the other 30.
The return of the seamers restored order and brought a enthusiastic crowd to light, but not before another hiccough or two. Morton brought up his hundred with a straight drive and briefly threatened to cut lose before he holed out to long on, and then Marlon Samuels was run out without facing a ball and Dwayne Smith was airily bowled by Mupariwa. At 206 for 6 there were few smiles.
But Rinke and Keegan Meth are almost certainly the two least-able death bowlers in the world game - and possibly outside it - and Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Carlton Baugh showed no mercy, pulling and driving at will. The shots of the innings came when Chanderpaul twice smacked one-handed sixes over midwicket.
Even though Mupariwa was brought back to try to restore sanity, the horse had bolted and his otherwise excellent figures were ruined as his final two over went for 24 and Zimbabwe's last seven for 70.
The series finishes tomorrow, assuming that the rains relent. But when you schedule matches at a time when rain is far from abnormal, what can you expect. The Indians, who are here in a fortnight for two more ODIs, better bring wet-weather clothes and some good books.
Chris Gayle b Mupariwa 2 (15 for 1)
Played round straight one attempting drive
Ramnaresh Sarwan c Taylor b Higgins 54 (149 for 2)
Thin outside edge to attempted cut
Brian Lara c Taylor b Higgins 2 (164 for 3)
Thin outside edge trying to run ball to third man
Runako Morton c Mupariwa b Ireland 109 (193 for 4)
Driven to long on, good running catch
Marlon Samuels run out (Chigumbura/Taylor) 0 (193 for 5)
Good pick-up, keeper did well to gather throw, well short
Dwayne Smith b Mupariwa 3 (206 for 6)
Came down pitch and played all round straight one
Terry Duffin c Baugh b Samuels 14 (33 for 1)
Reverse swept into keeper's hands
Piet Rinke run out (Lara/Baugh) 4 (42 for 2)
Crazy call from Sibanda, a yard short
Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo