Zimbabwe snatch last ball thriller to take 1-0 lead: Digicel Match Report
Zimbabwe held their nerve to steal an enthralling last ball thriller and win by two runs against West Indies in the First Digicel ODI at the Guyana National Stadium. They have shocked the Windies and taken a 1-0 lead in the five-match Digicel Series.
With 15 runs needed from the final over with Nikita Miller on strike, the Jamaican smashed a six from the first ball and followed up with a four to leave five runs to get from four deliveries. He took a single next ball and Dwayne Smith was on strike. Smith then essayed a wild and mighty blow, missed and was bowled. After the ill-advised shot, four runs were then required from two balls.
Sulieman Benn hit his first delivery to deep mid wicket and was caught by Graeme Cremer to leave the score 251 for 9. Debutant Shingirai Masakadza (3 for 36) was then on a hat trick but it was not to be. Importantly though, his team came out victorious.
Benn’s departure meant that last man Kemar Roach needed a boundary from the final delivery of the match. He succeeded in getting only a single and the Windies lost by two runs, ruining the afternoon of the 3,000 or so spectators who remained late into the afternoon to cheer their team on. They left dejected after braving intermittent showers throughout the day which caused the covers to be brought on twice, though on one occasion it was during the lunch interval.
Zimbabwe batted first after winning the toss and posted 254 for 5 from 50 overs, mainly through a measured 95 from opener Vusi Sibanda and a hurried 56 from wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu. The Windies made 252 for 9 from their 50 overs as they were outplayed in the batting and bowling departments.
Zimbabwe’s top three batsmen made 192 runs while the top three Windies batsmen made 177 runs. The difference could be in the bowling of the Zimbabwean spin quartet. The four spinners – Prosper Utseya, Ray Price (who opened the attack), Graeme Cremer and Greg Lamb – bowled 40 overs which cost 161 runs at an average of four runs an over. They took just two wickets but it was their tight leash on the Windies batsmen which was critical.
It was a problem which Sibanda encountered but which he overcame and one which Taibu never allowed upon himself. The pair added 100 for the second wicket after Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza put on 67 for the opening stand. Sibanda faced 162 balls and only scored at a strike rate of 58 per 100 balls. His efforts though were enough to earn him the Man of the Match which comes with a Blackberry Bold 9700 smartphone from Digicel.
Sibanda’s innings ended in spectacular fashion when a delivery from Kemar Roach smashed into his bat and broke in half and went on to hit the stump for the 26 year old right hander to be out bowled and be left stranded 5 runs short of what would have been a second career ODI century.
The Windies were unable to take regular wickets as the Zimbabweans played with measured aggression and were intent on keeping wickets in hand until the latter overs.
The Windies started off with returning captain Chris Gayle launching into the spin based attack with 57 from 66 deliveries with three sixes and two fours. Along with debutant Adrian Barath, Gayle added 99 runs before becoming an lbw victim of Greg Lamb (10-0-35-1).
After the loss of the two openers, the run rate began to climb and it was solely through the efforts of Shivnarine Chanderpaul who made a run-a-ball 70 that the Windies came within touching distance of Zimbabwe’s score.
Despite losing partners at 30 run intervals, Chanderpaul kept the scoreboard ticking over then in the latter stages of his innings carved four boundaries and a six. Caught in two minds, a lofted drive landed in the safe hands of Elton Chigumbura at long off to sink the Windies hopes.
The Windies then lost Denesh Ramdin for 8 (235 for 7) to find themselves in further trouble with 20 runs to get from eight balls. It all went pear-shaped after despite Miller’s two lusty blows.
The Windies will have yet another chance at redemption on Saturday in the Second Digicel ODI. The crowd should be better but they would not want to have to trek home dejected. It is a message the players should be well aware of.