Disgraceful Windies extend winless streak to 14
Despite fifties from Chanderpaul, Gayle & Barath
By Sean Devers
For the fair-size working day crowd that turned up at the Guyana National Stadium yesterday it was another heart breaking excursion as another woeful performance from the West Indies extended their ODI losing streak to 14 matches since their last win against India in Jamaica on July 28 last year.
On the back of their disgraceful 20/20 loss to Zimbabwe in Trinidad last Sunday, the hosts, with Skipper Chris Gayle back in the team, were hoping to bounce back against the Africans with a confidence-boasting win in the first match of the ODI series against a team ranked 2 places below them.
Zimbabwe, who before yesterday had managed just 8 ODI wins and lost 27 times against the West Indies since they first met in the 1983 World Cup, rattled up 254-5 off 50 overs, their highest total at this level in Guyana, and then restricted the struggling home team to 252-9 on a sluggish track and lightning fast outfield.
In a team of highly paid and much hyped-up batsmen who have consistently shown mental and technical inaptitude at the International level, the burden of getting a winning total again rested heavily on the shoulders of Gayle and Chanderpaul.
Without senior batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan who the selectors claim is not fit enough to play in this team, the West Indies were off to a solid start in their run-chase before Chanderpaul progressed from a slow start to show his class with a top score of 70.
Gayle, the region’s leading ODI centurion with 19 tons, hit 2 fours and 3 sixes in an entertaining 63-ball 57 while Adrian Barath played the supporting role with 4 fours from 96 balls in an even fifty in a 98-run opening stand.
But as is almost expected, the rest of the batsmen, apart from Chanderpaul, produced another example of senseless cricket as West Indies cricket sank to a new low to give Zimbabwe, not even a Test team at preset, a 1-nil lead in the 5-match series.
Two pugnacious reverse sweeps from Chanderpaul for boundaries off consecutive balls and an array of wristy nudges into the gaps showed why the Guyanese left-hander is only behind Brian Lara and Desmond Haynes with runs in ODI cricket although his forte is Test cricket.
But two run outs and the inability of the lower order to fire under pressure helped orchestrate another loss for a team which is fast becoming a laughing stock and their defeats are as frequent as the questionable decisions by their board and its selectors.
Opener Vusi Sibanda’s responsible155-ball innings which included 5 fours and a six was the backbone of Zimbabwe innings before he fell 5 short of his 2nd ODI ton.
Hamilton Masakadza (41), Tatenda Taibu, who hit a busy 56 from 54 balls with 5 fours and a cameo 22-ball 27 from Elton Chigumbura spurred Zimbabwe to their eventual winning total to inspire realistic hopes of a first ever series win against the West Indies.
Electing to bat first in overcast conditions, Zimbabwe reached 67 in 19 overs before Nikita Miller, one of 2 left-arm spinners in the home team, removed the elder Masakadza.
Taibu ran like a hare between the wickets and upset the bowlers with an assortment of premeditated sweeps and the ‘little’ keeper added 100 with Sibanda before he was LBW to Kieron Pollard at 167-2.
A run later, Brendan Taylor (1) was run out by a skillful piece of football work from Pollard who chipped the ball onto the striker’s stumps on his follow-through.
Chigumbura lofted left-arm spinner Suleiman Benn for the game’s first six; in the 44th over, before he was removed by Pollard at 214-5 with six overs left in the innings.
Sibanda, dropped on 78 off Pollard, tried to accelerate the scoring before he was beaten for pace and bowled by Kemar Roach at 241-5 in penultimate over and departed with his bat broken in two. Pollard whose last over cost 13 runs, finished with 2-29 but it was the towering Benn, who shared the new ball with Roach and produced 4 maidens, who was the most economical bowler with 0-38 from 10 overs.
After a brief period of rain at a time of drought in Guyana, Gayle clobbered off-spinner Prosper Utseya for sixes in consecutive overs and the crowd about 3,000 fans were elebrating.
A fee-hit from pacer Shingirai Masakadza disappeared into the stand off Gayle’s bat while Barath gathered 2 boundaries with sweeps shots before elegantly cutting left-arm spinner Ray Price, who opened the bowling with Utseya, for four.
Even when Gayle was LBW to Greg Lamb and Barath was bowled by Chigumbura at 125-2, most in the ground still felt a West Indies win was on the cards against a team whose last 5 ODIs all ended in defeats.
Andre Fletcher, a surprise pick ahead of the talented Daren Bravo, was run out for 12 while Narsingh Deonarine (17) charged into Chanderpaul’s crease and was also run out as West Indies slipped to 165-4.
Coach Otis Gibson is getting a baptism of fire in his new job and more insanity was to follow when the big-hitting Pollard, the world most expensive cricketer despite his ODI average of 17.88 with a solitary fifty, failed to clear mid-on, inside the batting power-play overs and was caught off Utseya for 5.
The pressure mounted on Chanderpaul who soon lofted a catch to long-off at 233-6 as Masakadza struck a telling blow.
Denesh Ramdin struggled for 15 balls for 8 in the power-play overs before Chigumbura ended his misery by shattering his stumps at 235-7.
The hosts needed 15 from the final over bowled by Masakadza and Miller revived hopes with a six and an edged four off the 1st two balls before getting a single off the 3rd.
Dwayne Smith, who averages just 16.22 with 3 fifties from 77 ODIs, looked clueless as he swiped and missed crucial deliveries and with 4 required from 3 balls fingers were crossed as the underachieving Barbadian right-hander took strike.
A brainless slog ended his innings and possible his career in West Indies colours as he was bowled for 4. Benn then lofted a catch to deep mid-wicket to leave Masakadza on a hat-trick and the stunned fans in shock.
Roach could only manage a single off the final ball and for the 2nd consecutive time in the series the West Indies team, once the pride of the Caribbean people, was booed off the field.
Masakadza ended with 3-36 from 3 overs while Chigumbura had 2-32 from 5 for Zimbabwe who could start tomorrow’s 2nd ODI at the same venue as the favourites if the West Indies players again turn up with yesterday’s mind-set.