West Indies bamboozled, humiliated by Zimbabwe
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
West Indies welcomed new coach Ottis Gibson to the job with horrific batting that condemned them to an embarrassing 26-run defeat in their Twenty20 International against Zimbabwe yesterday.
Chasing a modest 106 from their allocation of 20 overs, West Indies were reduced to 79 for seven from 20 overs on a hard, slow Queen's Park Oval pitch.
This followed outstanding bowling from Darren Sammy and Sulieman Benn that put them into the record books, as Zimbabwe, choosing to bat, were dismissed for 105 in 19.5 overs.
Sammy collected five wickets for 26 runs from 3.5 overs to eclipse Benn's four for six from four overs as the third best figures in a T20I.
But spin, the eternal bane of West Indies batsmen, again was the stumbling block, as Zimbabwe's four spinners, led by Graeme Cremer, bamboozled their way through the home team batting.
Stand-in captain Denesh Ramdin's 23 not out from 36 balls was the top score; and Shivnarine Chanderpaul made 20 from 30 balls, before he too drowned in the slow stuff.
All the West Indies batsmen surrendered to the Zimbabwe spinners with Cremer leading the way with three for 11 from his allotment of four overs, and Greg Lamb finishing with two for 14 from four overs.
West Indies knew they had a fight on their hands, when Zimbabwe opened the bowling with their captain and off-spinner Prosper Utseya and left-arm spinner Ray Price.
Openers Adrian Barath and Chanderpaul failed to give West Indies early momentum, and the Zimbabwe slow bowlers, gaining appreciable turn from the pitch, gradually built up the pressure.
Barath cracked, when he charged down the pitch, swung and missed at a delivery from Price and was bowled for eight in the sixth over.
The West Indies' slide continued unchecked when Andre Fletcher was caught at deep mid-wicket off Utseya for a duck in the seventh over and Cremer removed Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo, off successive deliveries, in the ninth over.
Pollard was bowled for one playing down the wrong line to a delivery that spun back sharply and Bravo was lbw for a first-ball duck essaying an ill-advised pull.
West Indies plunged to 39 for five, and the match swung decisively Zimbabwe's way, when Chanderpaul was deceived in flight and was lbw to Lamb in the 12th over.
Ramdin and Dwayne Smith briefly raised hopes of a late flourish, but their efforts fizzled and Zimbabwe walked away with a victory in the maiden T20I between the two sides.
Earlier, Benn put West Indies in early control, when he removed Vusimuzi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Stuart Matsikenyeri, and Brendan Taylor all for ducks to send the visitors sliding to 11 for four in the fifth over. But West Indies saw Zimbabwe fight back, when Hamilton Masakadza, whose 44 from 67 balls was the top score, and Lamb added 40 for the fifth wicket.
Sammy then snuffed out the rearguard, even though Elton Chigumbura got 34 from 19 balls, and led an assault on Ravi Rampaul, whose final over cost 22 and allowed the Zimbabwean total to cross the 100-run threshold.
The T20I was the precursor to five One-day Internationals between the two sides to be contested in Guyana on March 4 and 6, and St Vincent on March 10, 12 and 14.