West Indies dominated most of the game but struggled against the USA lower-order towards the end as Gajanand Singh scored a superb century.
West Indies had managed a total of 297, thanks to decent knocks from Johnson Charles, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Roston Chase, and Jason Holder, but were given a scare as USA pushed the game close.
The USA got off to a sedate start in response to the West Indies total. Sushant Modani and Steven Taylor added 35 runs for the first wicket before the former was taken at third man off a Holder delivery in the eighth over. In the very next over, Kyle Mayers accounted for Taylor (18).
The USA’s chances were badly hit when Monank Patel and Saiteja Mukkamalla fell in back-to-back overs, leaving the North American side at 55 for four in 13.4 overs. Walking in next, USA no. 6 Gajanand Singh took the attack to West Indies bowlers before looking to settle in for the chase.
Together with Aaron Jones, he added 42 runs for the fifth wicket. The stand was broken when Jones was run out in the 21st over. At the halfway stage, the USA were 106 for five.
USA’s sixth wicket stand withstood the West Indies’ challenge till the 34th over. Gajanand and Shayan Jahangir added 58 runs off 83 balls before the latter fell to Alzarri Joseph.
After Shayan’s dismissal, the West Indies win seemed to be a formality as the run rate had crept over 10. However, they had to contend with a spirited stand between Gajanand and Nosthush Kenjige. The duo added 76 runs for the eighth wicket and remained unbeaten till the end of the game. Gajanand (101 not out) also scored his maiden ODI hundred in the final over of the game.
Earlier in the day, USA skipper Monank won the toss at Takashinga Sports Club and decided to bowl first. The American team hoped that their seamers led by Saurabh Netravalkar could make up for the absence of Ali Khan, who misses the first two games of the tournament due to an ICC suspension.
West Indies, led by Shai Hope, were without Trinidad player Yannic Cariah, who missed out because of an injury.
The USA new-ball opening pair of Saurabh Netravalkar and Kyle Phillip proved to be handy in the opening overs when they got the ball to jag around and asked several questions of the West Indies batters. The duo got one each as the West Indies lost their openers within the first six overs. At 15 for two things looked dire for the Men in Maroon, but skipper Hope joined hands with Johnson Charles to stitch together a crucial stand of 115 runs which stabilised the innings.
Both the batters reached their half-centuries before the 25-over mark. At the midway stage, West Indies stood at 121 for two.
Hope’s knock of 54 was brought to an end in the 27th over when the West Indies skipper hit a Nosthush Kenjige delivery toward the cover sweeper. In the very next over, Taylor brought the downfall of Charles (66), who skied one towards short third man.
Roston Chase and Nicholas Pooran then came together to rebuild the West Indies innings once more. Pooran was his usual free-flowing self, whereas Chase held the innings together from the other end. At 187 for four in 35 overs, the batting side was at a slight advantage.
However, part-timer Taylor struck back for the USA and took back-to-back wickets in the form of Pooran (43 from 28) and Rovman Powell (0) in the 36th over.
Their quest for a total closing in on 300 was then guided by Jason Holder, who played a fiery knock of 56 off 40. The Men in Maroon were bowled out for 297.
In the opening encounter of the World Cup Qualifier, Zimbabwe secured a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over Nepal.