By Ray Sundar
In a clash of the cellar dwelling “titans”, West Indies earned the exclusive right to take up temporary residency in the cellar after losing a tense, nail-biter in the first One Day International, falling for 252 in pursuit of an elusive 254.
Half- centuries by The Shiv (70 off 70 deliveries for an impressive strike rate of 100), Chris Gayle (57 off 66 deliveries) and Adrian Barath (50 off 96 deliveries) could not compensate for the lack of production by the tail-enders and the abysmal performance of the quartet of Pollard (5), Fletcher (6), Ramdeen (8) and Deonarine (17).
With Chanderpaul still at the crease, visions of a heroic rear-guard action must have overwhelmed the fans, reminiscent of him slamming 10 off the last two deliveries in a superlative effort against Chaminda Vaas of Sri Lanka at The Queens Park Oval in Trinidad for victory. Alas, when he fell at 47.5 overs West Indies needed 20 for victory. The rest, as they say, is history.
Much credit must be given to the relatively young Zimbabewans for this victory which temporarily uplift their spirits. A patient knock of 95 off 162 deliveries by Sibanda, the eventual man of the match, and a glorious, auspicious debut by Masakadza, 3/32, contributed mightily.
Hopefully all is not lost as the inept West Indies have four One Day International remaining to salvage the series. The second ODI is on March 6, 2010 at Providence Stadium in Guyana.
What a rude welcome for the new coach – Mr. Gibson!