By Ray Sundar
West Indies’ quest for redemption has shifted from Providence, Guyana to Arnos Vale Ground (better known as The Playing Fields), St. Vincent. Will the change of venue be any motivation for West Indies to perform better? We shall see!
Zimbabwe’s Utseya won the toss and invited West Indies to bat. Many felt he will regret this decision. The openers, Gayle and Barath, batted cautiously and at the end of five overs had 11 runs to show for their efforts.This translates into 2.20 runs per over. Even ‘cool’ Chris Gayle seemed to have checked his well-known aggression at the gate. However, the succeeding five overs produced 25 additional runs as Gayle began to flex his muscles, increasing the run rate to 3.60 per over.
Gayle raced to 33 with the aid of one towering six and three fours before falling victim to his counterpart, Utseya. Seven other batsmen reached double figures with The Shiv leading the pack. Shiv scored 58 off 76 deliveries, alternating dogged defiance, content to scamper for singles and twos, with calculated aggression. Ravi Ramphal provided some pyrotechnics of his own in an entertaining knock of 14 off 4 deliveries. This translates to an eye popping strike rate of 350.
Chasing 246 for victory at an asking rate of 4.92 per over, Zimbabwe’s true color manifested itself, capitulating for 104 all out off 31.5 overs. They lost by a whopping 141 runs. Sammy (4/26), Roach (3/28) and Bravo (2/23) conspired to send them packing.
Sibanda went for nought, the unlucky recipient of a ferocious yorker from Roach which uprooted his off-stump off the 3rd delivery of the innings. Taylor joined Masakadza and together they put on 51 for the 2nd wicket before he was caught and bowled by Sammy for 19. The remaining batsmen, excluding Masakadza who scored 35, performed spinelessly as Zimbabwe seemed to have regressed to its hitherto super minnow status.
Ramdeen’s elevation to the # 4 spot did not yield immediate dividends as he fell cheaply for 19. Again, Pollard failed to produce as he went meekly for 17. Injury prone Sarwan is not yet fully fit and as such management has decided to play it safe and delay his return.
By virtue of this lopsided victory, West Indies leads the 5 match series 2 – 1, and have temporarily lifted themselves out of the cellar. The next match will be played on March 12, 2010 at Arnos Vale Ground, Kingstown, St. Vincent.