Windies cruise into Super Eight round
By Orin Davidson in Jamaica
March 20, 2007
West Indies cruised into the second-round Super Eight stage dispatching Zimbabwe without pressing the gas too much, in their second of three Group D World Cup matches yesterday.
Captain Brian Lara had Zimbabwe set up for the kill, but chose instead to give his under-utilised bowlers a workout, which resulted in the underdogs scoring 202-5 off their allotted 50 overs.
It gave the West Indies' batsmen an opportunity for match practice and a few obliged, as they eased to victory, posting 204-4 in 47.5 overs in reply.
Chris Gayle smashed a whirlwind 40, Dwayne Bravo was similarly flambouyant with 37 not out and Lara himself chipped in with a smooth unbeaten 44.
The captain, who fell below his normal high standards in the first game against Pakistan, was the most fluent of the lot.
He ended the game with successive boundaries, cover driving Elton Chigumbura for
four then lofting the young Zimbabwe medium-pacer for six over midwicket in successive balls.
Lara drove crisply, cut artistically and was the antithesis to Gayle, who
entertained the packed Sabina Park crowd with a number of his trade mark bludgeoning shots that saw him clouting three fours and three sixes.
With opening partner Shiv Chanderpaul, Gayle compiled a 73-run partnership which set the stage for Lara and Bravo to complete the target chase with a 75-run fifth-wicket stand.
Gayle exploded after needing his customary time to get fully in the grove.
Goaded by his home crowd which must be the noisiest of the West Indian venues, the left-hander opened up with a pulled on-side four off paceman Anthony Ireland.
After Chanderpaul got into the act with two sweetly timed cover driven boundaries, the crowd got going with the Mexican Wave to which Gayle responded by blasting three successive sixes off the fast-medium Twanda Mupariwa.
The first was a gigantic straight hit that almost the cleared the massive Northern Stand, then the Jamaican followed up with a back foot pull that sailed over the Party Stand. He then creamed a half volley straight over the bowler's head and into the sight screen.
Almost immediately afterwards Chanderpaul was dismissed and the crowd was silenced as Zimbabwe fought back.
Two wickets fell at 73 when Gayle removed his bat a little too late from an attempted glide and edged Chris Mpofu for Visu Sibanda to take a spectacular left-handed reflex catch while moving in the opposite direction, as the ball deflected out of the gloves of wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor.
Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels flickered briefly before being removed through soft dismissals for 12 and 28 respectively.
But Bravo was in no mood for foolishness and immediately joined in the sixes fest, by clouting one over midwicket to stamp his authority.
Lara, though, waited until the end to make his contribution by which time the crowd had thoroughly enjoyed the West Indies' batting exhibition
Earlier when Zimbabwe was sent in to bat, Lara seemed more intent on giving a few of his bowlers a workout than to press home the advantage after the underdogs were sent reeling at 59-4 at one stage.
As he is prone to do, Lara eased the pressure, allowing spinners Gayle and Samuels to complete their full allotment of ten overs each, following their non-use in the first game against Pakistan.
Darren Powell, who delivered his allotted 10 on the trot last Tuesday, had an excellent first spell conceding only 15 runs off six overs with one wicket to show for it. He was not recalled to finish his allotment, while Dwayne Bravo was not used period.
Generating great pace, the Jerome Taylor/ Powell opening duo had Zimbabwe on the back foot from the word go.
With his first delivery and the seventh of the game, Taylor rocked the stumps of new opener Friday Kasterni with a wicked inswinger without any runs on the board.
When Zimbabwe eventually eked out two, Powell embarrassed Sibanda by wrecking his stumps after the young Zimbabwean shouldered arms to a slight in-
dipper, and was bowled for a mere single.
It was a disappointing display by the opener who had impressed with a half century against Ireland.
It was soon 31-3 when Taylor bagged his second scalp, comprehensively beating the right-handed Justice Chibhabha for pace and breaching his stumps.
After brief resistance, Dwayne Smith continued his wicket-taking ways, having Stuart Matsikenyeri caught by Powell for 16 to leave the middle order exposed too soon for Zimbabwe's comfort at 59-4.
Lara soon introduced his two spinners, who were not as penetrative but not runs- yielding either.
The Zimbabweans, relieved to have the pressure eased, opted for self preservation and crawled along at around three runs an over.
It allowed Brendon Taylor and Sean Williams to put together a fifth-wicket stand of 83 as Gayle and Samuels worked off the rust.
Taylor was brought back for a second spell, but with a defensive field minus any slips, the Zimbabwean pair survived and even accelerated towards the end.
Samuels was hit for back to back 10-run overs as Williams stepped up the pace, ending with a well-played, unbeaten 70 off 88 balls including seven fours.
Brendon Taylor was earlier run out for a labourious 121-ball 50.
Jerome Taylor ended with 2-42 while Smith's solitary wicket was had at the cost of 28 runs off five overs.