Zimbabwe 338 for 7 (Taylor 98, Sibanda 78, Duffin 60) beat Bermuda 144 for 7 (Romaine 62) by 194 runs
Zimbabwe crushed Bermuda by 194 runs at Queen's Park Oval in a low-key dress rehearsal for Saturday's tournament final. While there is little to suggest that the result in two days' time will be any different, it has to be hoped that match will provide more of a contest.
Zimbabwe's players would have been forgiven the odd wry smile during Bermuda's turgid performance with the bat as they ambled to 144 for 7 in their 50 overs, never looking remotely interested in a chase. Only last week, Zimbabwe were adopting exactly the same tactics against West Indies, accepting they were not good enough to score the runs and preferring to try to bat out the overs.
Zimbabwe's batsmen at least took the opportunity to fill their boots after a drought against West Indies. Piet Rinke fell early, but then Vusi Sibanda (78 in 71 balls), Chamu Chibhabha (43 in 62) and Terry Duffin (60 in 55) all scored at will. The highlights were provided by Brendan Taylor, who has been threatening to play an innings of substance ever since he arrived in the Caribbean. He smacked 98 off 75 balls, and was only deprived of a deserved hundred when he was bowled attempting the big hit off the last ball of the innings.
In fairness to Bermuda, they rested two of their frontline bowlers - George O'Brien and the heavyweight Dwayne Leverock - preferring to keep them as a surprise for Saturday.
Even if they were not looking to give their all in this match, Bermuda's display with the bat was nevertheless poor. Treadwell Gibbons, who was making his debut at the top of the order, almost took root, plodding to 33 off 85 balls to make sure that any sniff of a chase was eliminated. By the time he was finally prised out, Bermuda were 85 for 3 with over half their overs gone.
Blessing Mahwire and Anthony Ireland, who had looked so vulnerable against West Indies, returned good figures with the new ball, and Prosper Utseya continued to impress with his offspin. Irvine Romaine batted sensibly for 62, but there was little pressure and he will find the going harder at the weekend.
While this tournament was a welcome initiative, it has suffered because Zimbabwe appear much better than either of the Associate countries. And that in itself has raised an issue. Coming immediately after Zimbabwe's one-sided thrashing by West Indies, it shows how vast the gulf really is between the best and the rest, and Zimbabwe now seem to occupy a place in the half-world between the two.
Saturday's final, however, gives one last chance for the Tri-Nations event to provide a contest and, who knows, an upset.