By Marlon Munroe
It is possible that the West Indies cricket team would have heard every conceivable criticism following their one disastrous performance after another.
And, after the West Indies’ two-run loss to Zimbabwe on Thursday at the Guyana National Stadium at Providence in the first ODI, the criticism would have poured in again from all quarters. Even captain Chris Gayle chipped in.
Gayle at the post match press conference, described his team’s performance as “rubbish.” He singled out his vice captain Denesh Ramdin, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Smith, for the brunt of his criticism as the Caribbean side fell to a team ranked below them.
Gayle blamed the middle order trio for poor judgment at crucial points in the game as the Caribbean side fell for 252 chasing 255 for victory.
Gayle, though, lauded the Africans for sticking to their plan and executing it well. Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya opened the bowling with spin and continued with that for most of the innings until pacer Shingirai Masakadza, who has a strike rate of 12, bowled a tight last over to keep at bay the West Indians who needed four runs from five balls; one run was conceded off the last three balls.
Meanwhile, when fans turn up for the 09:30 start today they will be hoping for a West Indies turnaround in convincing fashion. However, judging from the statements of the Zimbabwe captain, his team will fight and it is confident of winning if it continues to play as a unit.
Zimbabwe, which became an associate member of the ICC on July 21, 1981, should be looking to go into today’s match boasting their four-prong spin attack and no doubt Utseya will be looking for Masakadza to repeat the same brilliance of Thursday’s game.
The team’s batting showed that it can hold its own with Hamilton Masakadza and Vusimuzi Sibanda opening the batting. The two added 67 runs for the first wicket before Tatenda Taibu came in and contributed 56 and shared in a 100-run partnership with Sibanda for the second wicket. In the West Indies team Gayle has Adrian Barath, who scored an even 50, as his partner and these two will be expected to give the team another good start as was the case in first game.
Should there be an early breakthrough at the top Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who has over 8,000 runs in ODIs, and Narsingh Deonarine, who was unfortunately run out for 17 in the last game, will be counted on to settle things down.
Guyanese Chanderpaul and Deonarine were batting and running well between the wicket before communication went awry and Deonarine was left stranded at the other end. His dismissal partly sparked the decline of the innings.
It is unclear whether the selectors will go with Smith or Darren Sammy, who at this time is a better choice for the position especially after his five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe last Sunday. The bowling will be spearheaded by pacer Kemar Roach who broke the bat of Sibanda in Thursday’s game, spinners Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller and Deonarine.