Gayle shows West Indies the way

The rain may have interrupted this game, but not enough to interrupt West Indies impressive recent one-day form, despite being pushed right to the very end from a stubborn Scottish side.

Following on from their 10 wicket demolition of Holland, Chris Gayle led his troops from the front in registering their second win of this tournament, but it was almost too close for comfort, the win coming off the penultimate ball of the day.

Scotland would not have thought they had posted a healthy enough total off their 30 overs, with 152-7 on the board, but West Indies did their utmost to keep them in the game, once the opening partnership of 95 ended. Spinner Majid Haq was Scotland’s star bowler and almost turned the game around, with an outstanding spell of 4-28 off his 6 overs, but unfortunately for him, it proved to be insufficient.

The game was only 2.2 overs old, after Gayle had inserted Scotland, when the first rain stoppage arrived. Once back on the field it did not take Daren Powell long to remove both openers and continue his excellent form and rhythm that he has found in the one-dayers. It is this form that has seen him sign for Hampshire (subject to approval from the WICB) in place of Stuart Clark who will not be returning from Australia.

Navdeep Poonia was Scotland’s stand out batsman. He may be struggling to break through into Warwickshire’s first eleven, but here he demonstrated his talent with forceful drives off both front and back foot, and his partnership with his captain Ryan Watson was offering signs of real hope, until Ravi Rampaul got Watson to steer the ball into Dwayne Smith’s hands at second slip for 21.

Poonia, still only 21 years old, and Omer Hussain then took the score into three figures without any further mishaps, that was until Fidel Edwards was introduced. He got Poonia caught behind, fending off one of his typical short fast deliveries for 40, then in his next over wrapped Hussain on his pads to win the decision of the umpire.

With 5 overs left of the 30 over innings, rain intervened once more, with the score at 111-5.

A fantastic six from Blain in the final over off Powell, and a flurry from McCallum, took their final total to 152-7 off the 30 overs. With Duckworth-Lewis’s calculations taken into account, the target for West Indies was 165 from 30.

That looked a formality as Chris Gayle and Devon Smith were quickly into their stride, and after the first 10 overs they had reached 53 without loss, Gayle in particular, looking in imperious form. His bat was soon to be raised in recognition of his 33rd ODI fifty.

Drinks brought a welcome relief for Scotland, as West Indies had cruised to 94-0 off 19 overs, and with 10 wickets still in hand, the run rate required of 6.45 seemed a mere formality.

The over following the break brought the opening wicket. Smith swept a ball from Haq, but failed to make good enough contact, and the ball looped to slip.

The run rate rose to 7 an over, and Haq again struck, this time twice in two balls, bowling Morton for 8, then inducing a false stroke, first ball, from Lendl Simmons, who played on. There was more excitement to come on his hat-trick ball, yet not the result you would expect.

The field closed in, and the anticipation grew, then Dwayne Smith took strike and duly pummelled the ball out of the ground over long off for a big six, signalling his intentions. However when he tried to hit Watson back over his head in the next over, West Indies lost another wicket, and Smith was gone caught and bowled for that solitary 6.

Denesh Ramdin was next in, and next out, in similar fashion to Simmons, and again to Haq. An attempt to run the ball down to third man, saw him deflect the ball onto his stumps, and Haq had four wickets to his name, for the first time in ODI’s.

With 33 required off the remaining 24 balls, West Indies seemed intent on throwing the game away, the pressure of the situation proving too much for young Austin Richards, He wandered from his crease and missed the ball off Watson and was stumped for 2, and in this passage of play West Indies had lost all six wickets for 38 runs, to produce an unlikely tense finish.

Despite Gayle’s cool exterior, he must have been utterly bewildered by what was taking place down at the other end, and he knew if they were going to get home, then he had to show the way.

A six over cover from Gayle, and four leg byes in the next over eased the pressure, and when nine was required in the last over, Darren Sammy smashed a four through cover, to induce heavy sighs of relief, felt all round the Caribbean.

Sammy completed the win with a one down to fine leg with only a ball to spare. Not as convincing as it could and probably should have been, but West Indies are getting that winning feeling back.

They are indeed indebted in this game to Chris Gayle, who remained composed, while all around lost their heads. He finished on 85 not out off 94 balls, and Sammy’s innings was also crucial at the death, closing on 18 not out.

Scotland 152-7 off 30 overs
Poonia 40, McCallum 27, Watson 21, Powell 3-38, Edwards 2-17

West Indies 165-6 off 29.5 overs
Gayle 85*, D.S.Smith 32, Haq 4-28, Watson 2-21

West Indies won by 4 wickets

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