Lara guides awkward WI home

The West Indies registered an awkward 5-wicket win over Zimbabwe to open their home season and a 7-game series against the visitors. On a difficult pitch where strokeplay and timing were at a premium, Brian Lara marked his second return to the captaincy with an unbeaten innings of 40, in the chase of 152.

Though even Lara found it difficult to play himself in on the ARG pitch, his was a typically composed innings in an otherwise disappointing West Indian approach. In a manner befitting of a far better home team performance, Lara ended the game with the vintage expression of a lofted six over midwicket off legspinner Ryan Higgins.

He was joined by Dwayne Bravo (9 not out) when he hit the winning runs, completing a partnership of 33. It had previously seemed that Ramdin (37) would stand by his captain at the finish of the game, but a poorly executed cut stroke ruined the young wicketkeeper’s stumps in an unnecessary dismissal.

Utseya was the wicket-taker then, rounding off a fine day when he produced a sharp run out of Sarwan (14) and figures of 3 for 35. A tame Chris Gayle (35 off 71 balls) and a disappointing Shivnarine Chanderpaul (3) were among his victims.

Ramdin entered earlier in a tricky spot at 38/2, woefully out of form and promoted to number four, ahead of both Lara and Chanderpaul. The young wicketkeeper took the opportunity willingly for the most part, and grew in confidence with time at the crease. Most notably he packed away his troublesome sweep shot but for once, and looked well on course to an unbeaten half-century before his senseless demise.

It was too little too late for Zimbabwe then, but due a very purposeful showing in the field it certainly was not for naught.

Lara won the toss at the start of the day and chose to bowl first on the tricky surface. The move paid immediate dividends with the dismissal of opener Piet Rinke (1) by Jerome Taylor in the second over of the game.

Leading his country for the fifth time in his fifth one-day international. Terry Duffin played a painstaking innings of 28 in recovery. Duffin left the ball outside offstump as first instinct, and he grafted for 89 balls and struck 3 fours in the effort. He added 64 with Justice Chibhabha for the second wicket, then departed to see his younger protege score a maiden half-century.

Exemplifying the heart evident throughout the Zimbabwean camp over the course of the game, Chibhabha played thoughtfully and with progressively more confidence to score 55 off 99 balls in his second ODI innings. His was the central performance for Zimbabwe, as despite a contribution of 25 from Brendan Taylor, the tourists collapsed massively toward the completion of their innings.

Having reached 121/3 in the middle of the 40th over, Zimbabwe could manage only 30 more runs over the final 10.3 overs. Attached to the scoring struggle was the dramatic loss of 6 wickets to the disciplined West Indian bowling.

All the West Indian bowlers did well, with Taylor (10-2-19-2) the best of four taking 2 wickets apiece. Indeed, only Fidel Edwards (0/23) and Ian Bradshaw (0/24) failed to take a wicket in the innings.

Chasing the meagre total of 151/9 may have seemed a formality before the start of the second innings, but Edward Rainsford brought the early success of Runako Morton (0) to keep some life in the match. The West Indies innings lacked fluency until Lara’s entry late in the game. With the score at 77/4 when he arrived, it was also far from convincing.

Zimbabwe 151-9 (50)
Justice Chibhabha 55, Terrence Duffin 28, Brendan Taylor 25
Jerome Taylor 2-19, Dwayne Bravo 2-23, Dwayne Smith 2-29, Chris Gayle 2-30

West Indies 154/5 (38.2)
Brian Lara 40*, Denesh Ramdin 37, Chris Gayle 35
Prosper Utseya 3/35, Edward Rainsford 1/25

West Indies won by 5 wickets.

Cricket Web’s Man of the Match: Prosper Utseya ? 2*; 3-35 and a run out

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