Gayle & Deonarine engineer long awaited Windies win – Digicel Match Report
There is good news to report from the Second Digicel One Day International at the Guyana National Stadium. The West Indies have won an international cricket match. Such a report has not been written since August 2nd 2009 when the West Indies beat Bangladesh in a Twenty20 International in St Kitts.
In this season, it has taken three attempts against Zimbabwe – a side not good enough to even play Test cricket – for the home side to produce a positive result. Previously they lost the Digicel Twenty20 by 26 runs and the First Digicel ODI by 2 runs.
West Indies won by four wickets with their Captain, Chris Gayle, leading the side in every regard – not in the least the batting – as he top scored with a multi-faceted 88 but was denied the official Man-of-the-Match award which was clearly due him after his superior all round performance.
Zimbabwe batted first and made 206. It was a modest total which was built around Elton Chigumbura’s 50 from 72 deliveries and Brendan Taylor’s 66 ball 47.
In recent times, the under-rated Jamaican left arm spinner, Nikita Miller has been performing under the radar without much recognition, but on Saturday he stepped to the fore, taking 4 wickets for 43 runs from 9 overs.
It was however Gayle’s miserly 10 overs of controlled slow bowling which tied the Zimbabweans down. His sixty deliveries went for a mere 25 runs – a rarity in 50 over cricket these days – particularly since the advent of the shortest format, Twenty20.
Gayle came into the attack in the 21st over and with his sixth delivery dislodged Taylor who by then had faced 66 deliveries and had struck four boundaries and a six. It was just as Taylor and Tatenda Taibu (31) had added 59 runs for the third wicket and were scoring at leisure that Gayle broke Zimbabwe’s momentum.
Miller then capitalized on Gayle’s stingy offerings. While Gayle tied a noose around the Zimbabwean scoring at one end, it was Miller on the other hand who secured the wickets by accounting for Stuart Matsikinyeri (2) and Taibu and then later on Greg Lamb (23) and Graeme Cremer (17).
West Indies responded with 208 for 6 from 47.5 overs with Narsingh Deonarine seeing the job to the end with an unbeaten innings of 65 which – in the view of adjudicator, former West Indies all rounder and Head Coach, Roger Harper, but few others – earned him the Man-of-the-Match award and a Blackberry Bold 9700 from Digicel.
While it was Deonarine who formalized the result, the run chase was engineered primarily by Gayle who played with typical aggression in the initial stages but who lowered gears and buckled down after he lost four partners by the time the score had gotten to 85 in the 26th over.
The Gayle and Deonarine association though virtually secured the result as the pair added 83 for the fifth wicket and took the score to 168 before Gayle – in the 42nd over – volunteered his wicket. He came down the track to his 111th delivery and tried to launch Cremer onto the Media Center but missed and was comfortably stumped by Taibu. By then he had hit seven fours and two sixes and batted with the purposefulness expected of a captain, particularly when his team is as desperate for a win as the Windies clearly were.
Deonarine’s innings was no less important as he ensured that the tailenders were not left with an impossible battle on their hands by playing with fluency and controlled aggression when it was needed to keep the Windies required run rate within manageable proportions.
Deonarine faced 85 balls and struck six boundaries and a six. He calmly completed the job despite losing Gayle and then Kieron Pollard for seven.
Initially Gayle must have had a few flutters when he was standing firm but lost opening partner Adrian Barath for 7, David Bernard (1), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (10) and Andre Fletcher for a duck.
The captain needed someone to partner him for a substantial period of time and accumulate runs and he found an ally in Deonarine, playing in front his home crowd and demonstrating superior technique against the battery of Zimbabwean spinners.
The two teams now move on to St Vincent with the five match Digicel Series locked 1-1 with three contests to go. The Windies have started on the road to redemption after shocking back-to-back losses. They would not want to take any steps back.