Sibanda hundred secures victory for Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe 259 for 7 (Sibanda 116, Taylor 55) beat Bermuda 176 (Mupariwa 3-19, Mahwire 3-29) by 83 runs

As expected, Zimbabwe cruised to victory over Bermuda in the final of the Tri-Nation tournament at Queen's Park Oval, Vusi Sibanda's hundred giving them a total that was never likely to be overtaken. These sides met two days ago when Zimbabwe recorded a crushing 194-run win, and while Bermuda had rested a couple of key players for that game, few expected anything else today.
Zimbabwe won the toss and batted, making a sprightly start thanks to Sibanda who looked in good form from the off. For a batsman who has been given a long run in the side, he has largely disappointed - as an average of 16.12 from 32 innings before this game indicates - but he did little wrong against far less threatening bowlers than he faced against West Indies.

Chamu Chibhabha, who was the batting star in the early part of that series, struggled for his 18, but his dismissal brought in Brendan Taylor who cracked a typically bellicose run-a-ball half-century, adding 88 in under 14 overs with Sibanda.

At 200 for 2 with 11 overs remaining, Zimbabwe were looking at another post-300 score, but the innings hiccoughed as they then lost three wickets in seven balls, two to Irvine Romaine. A tiring Sibanda finally fell for 116 as the innings ended with a thud rather than a bang.

Why Tawanda Mupariwa was not entrusted with the new ball against West Indies was a mystery, and his initial burst today, when he removed both Bermuda's openers, only added to the bewilderment. Equally bemusing was Bermuda's decision to send in Treadwell Gibbons at the top of the order. On Thursday, he ground out an 85-ball 33; today he faced 13 balls for 0.

Saleem Mukuddem and Romaine ensured there were no more setbacks, but by the time Mukuddem went with the score 59 for 3, Bermuda had used almost half their allocation of overs and were out of the hunt. Dean Minors and Lionel Cann injected some sense of urgency spirited cameos, but by then the bird had flown.

Prosper Utseya ended his Caribbean trip showing the same control that he had throughout, taking 2 for 21 from his ten overs, and even the ever wayward Blessing Mahwire grabbed three and Bermuda pressed for runs that were only ever going to change the margin of defeat rather than the result.

Zimbabwe, however, deserved their victory and it has to give their young side a boost after a frankly disappointing series against West Indies. Their next opposition are Bangladesh in two or three months, and that will be an altogether different proposition.

Bermuda came out of the competition with a realisation of how much work they have to do. But they have $11 million of government investment injected into the sport and an enthusiastic local population. Zimbabwe have the money, courtesy of the ICC, but their other problems are weighty, and it will be interesting to see where these two countries stand in three or four years time.

The third participants - Canada - were terribly unimpressive, and they do not have the money or widespread support for the game; nor do they have the time to make major advances before the World Cup in 10 months' time. They face Bermuda and Kenya in another tri-series in July where they will need to be several notches better than they were here to even compete.