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Cricket: Charles, Bravo lead Windies to Zimbabwe rout

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Johnson Charles blazed a second consecutive century and Darren Bravo made a maiden limited overs ton as the West Indies routed Zimbabwe by 156 runs to win the first one-day international on Friday.

Man of the match Charles hammered 130 and Bravo finished on an even, unbeaten 100 to lead the home side to an imposing 337 for four after being put in by Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor.

While there was nothing like the capacity crowd that would have been hoped for on a day declared a national holiday by the newly-elected government of the island, the fans who turned up on a sunny Caribbean day stayed in a celebratory mood throughout.

The visitors were limited to just 181 for nine in reply, home spinner Sunil Narine leading the bowling effort with three for 28.

Just the sixth West Indian to compile consecutive one-day centuries, Charles, who closed off the series in Australia less than two weeks ago with a maiden hundred, picked up from where he left off, his innings occupying 113 deliveries and decorated with 12 fours and four sixes.

He gave the home side the ideal start in an opening partnership of 168 with Kieran Powell, who contributed 79 before falling to medium-fast bowler Chris Mpofu in the 29th over.

After a comparatively slow start, Bravo got into his stride by the time he reached the 40s, accelerating following the dismissal of the opening batsman in the 39th over -- near the end of the batting power-play -- to completely dominate the rest of the batting effort.

Andre Russell, promoted up the order, and skipper Dwayne Bravo, leading the team instead of the rested Darren Sammy, fell cheaply.

But Ramnaresh Sarwan did what was required at the end, feeding the younger Bravo most of the strike to allow the classy left-hander to reach a maiden ODI hundred.

Faced with such a formidable target, Zimbabwe went off-course from the outset in slipping to 34 for four by the 11th over, although their first casualty could have been avoided had the lbw verdict against Vusi Sibanda been referred to the television umpire as replays showed Kemar Roach's delivery to be missing leg-stump.

If the fast bowler was fortunate to claim that early scalp, there was no questioning his brilliance in the field when a diving effort at long-on accounted for Zimbabwe's other experienced top-order batsman, Hamilton Masakadza, off Narine.

Malcolm Waller (51) and Craig Ervine (41) gave the tourists a modicum of respectability, although the West Indian intensity had noticeably slackened with the match firmly in their grasp after the bowlers' opening burst.

The second and third game in the series take place at the same venue on Sunday and Tuesday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130222/cricket-charles-bravo-lead-windies-zimbabwe-rout