Test & ODI Matches

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Zim Hammer India for Historic Win

The tri-series has moved to Harare for the second round of matches, the first of which was round two of Zimbabwe v India, with India confident ahead of the match of being able to take revenge for the drubbing they received in the tournament opener. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, have a far better recent record at Fortress HSC than they've had at Queen's, giving them a bit of a psychological advantage going into the match. Zimbabwe won the toss and opted to field, and while openers Dinesh Karthik (33) and Murali Vijay (21) put on 58 for the first wicket, it was all Zimbabwe's innings from there on. Led by an impressively-economical spell from Andy Blignaut (22/1 from his 10 overs), Zim's bowlers choked off the supply of runs for the Indians and took regular wickets throughout the innings. The only real bright spot for the visitors was Ravindra Jadeja's 51, while Greg Lamb again proved his value to the side, taking 3/45 along the way to restricting India to 194/9 from their 50 overs. Some superb 'keeping from Tatenda Taibu, returning from injury, also did no harm to Zim's cause.

That left Zim chasing 195 to win, a score that, on paper, they should be able to chase down easily enough - but the spectre of the Zimbabwe Collapse™, as seen against Sri Lanka, was lurking in the background to potentially spoil the party. Zimbabwe's batting inconsistency is such that you never know which side will turn up to bat: the brittle, record-low-scoring one, or the solid, determined one - it usually takes a steady opening stand to ensure the latter, and today Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor stood up and provided that stand. The pair put on 128 runs for the opening wicket, cracking along at well above the asking rate and with one eye on the bonus point that could be scored if Zimbabwe could chase the target down inside 40 overs. Taylor was eventually the first to go, after adding an impressive 74, while Masakadza eventually holed out for 66, but by then the foundations for another stunning victory had been built. Charles Coventry made a useful cameo appearance, scoring 20 before heading back to the pavilion, leaving captain Elton Chigumbura (16*) and Tatenda Taibu (13*) to close out the match - which they did with plenty of time to spare.

The win puts Zimbabwe back on top of the points table, and almost certainly into the tri-series final. Well done the lads. Full scorecard below the cut.
India 194/9 (50 overs; Jadeja 51, Lamb 3/45), Zimbabwe 197/3 (38.2 overs; Taylor 74, Jadeja 2/27). Zimbabwe win by 7 wickets.

Zim Capitulate to Sri Lanka

Zimbabwe showed their best form last Friday in their triumph over India; on Tuesday they showed their worst side as they capitulated easily to Sri Lanka by nine wickets. The match was reduced to 26 overs a side after heavy early-morning rain delayed the start until one o’clock, but had no excuse for a poor batting and bowling display that handed the tourists the match with more than ten overs to spare.

It was considered quite a disadvantage to Zimbabwe to lose the toss in these circumstances, and be put in to bat. They soon lost Brendan Taylor, who tamely edged a ball to the keeper in the second over. First Greg Lamb (10) and Craig Ervine (7) gave Hamilton Masakadza useful support for a while until both got out with strokes of frustration; with good bowling and a heavy pitch, quick run-getting was not easy. After ten overs, the score was 61 for two.

Charles Coventry scored 11, including a trademark big six, but then skied a boundary catch, making Zimbabwe 83 for four. Then disaster struck, as five wickets were to fall for only nine runs, including those of the two big hitters, Elton Chigumbura and Andy Blignaut. Chigumbura pulled a long hop from Jeevan Mendis on to his stumps, while Blignaut edged a catch groping outside the off stump; both scored only a single.

Raymond Price at last showed some fighting spirit, keeping his end up while Masakadza carried on batting superbly. He went to his fifty off 51 balls, and the 100 came up after 21 overs. Masakadza was finally out in the penultimate over, caught on the boundary at cow corner. His 62 came off 69 balls, and he hit four fours and one six. Next ball the innings closed, as Price skied a ball into the covers and the difficult catch was dropped, only for Price to attempt a ridiculous second run and get run out.

Zimbabwe had contrived to get themselves all out for 118 with seven balls still in hand. Extras, with 13, was the second best scorer. The most successful bowler was Suraj Randiv, with three wickets during Zimbabwe’s middle-order collapse. Nobody doubted the likelihood of Sri Lanka polishing off the runs with little difficulty.

Chris Mpofu began with a maiden over, although there were four leg-byes. But his next over was poor, Upal Tharanga hitting short wide balls for three fours in the backward point region. Tillakaratne Dilshan soon got in on the act and the boundaries flowed; it looked a different pitch altogether to that Zimbabwe batted on. They made 86 in less than 11 overs before Tharanga (40) looked for a quick single in the covers, but was sent back and run out, thanks to some quick work from Prosper Utseya.

Chigumbura again had problems with his bowling, his first two balls being slashed by Dilshan through point for four. In the next over the Sri Lankan captain reached his fifty off 34 balls. Runs flowed, with both Chigumbura and Cremer spraying the ball all over the pitch, and when a wide from Mpofu ended the match, Dilshan was unbeaten with 60 off 45 balls, with seven fours and a six. Each team now has one victory in this tournament, but Zimbabwe, after their good start, are now the team under pressure. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 118 (24.5/26 overs; Masakadza 62, Randiv 3/23), Sri Lanka 119/1 (15.2/26 overs; Dilshan 60*, Price 0/14). Sri Lanka win by 9 wickets.
[Source: ZC]

Zim Claim First Blood in Tri-Series

In a thrilling run-chase, Zimbabwe tracked down a daunting Indian total to win the opening match of the triangular tournament by six wickets with ten balls to spare. Despite a poor start, despite requiring a run rate of almost nine an over at one stage, they showed the spirit and skill to break through the barrier and win handsomely.

India decided to bat on winning the toss, correctly seeing little danger of early life in the pitch. Zimbabwe were lacking Tatenda Taibu, who has injured his ankle. India were given a flying start by Zimbabwe ’s new captain, Elton Chigumbura, who had a nightmare opening spell with the ball. If his first over was erratic, his second was horrendous, conceding 26 runs, most of them in leg-side wides that Brendan Taylor, the wicket-keeper, was unable to reach. When the 50 went up in the eighth over, 26 were extras, and three of those were wides.

At the other end Chris Mpofu was doing a steady job without support, but the momentum was broken by two fine run-outs. Murali Vijay paid the price for carelessness in turning back after considering a second run, and Taylor ’s backward underhand flick found him stranded; Virat Kohli didn’t face a ball before Chigumbura showed his fielding had not suffered, with a direct hit. When Dinesh Karthik edged an attempted cut off Utseya to the keeper, India were 61 for three in the 13th over.

Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina were forced to consolidate, contenting themselves with working the ball around for singles, which they did skilfully. The 100 came up in the 25th over, but at 128 Raina, growing impatient, slashed at a very wide ball from Mpofu and was caught at the wicket for 37 off 53 balls. But Sharma stood firm and increased the tempo, finding a good partner in Ravindra Jadeja. Once past 50, Sharma improvised marvellously at times and both made batting look easy; there was nothing the Zimbabwean bowlers could do to keep them under control.

With two overs to go Sharma finally skied a catch to the keeper and departed for 114, scored off 119 balls, with six fours and four sixes. With Yusuf Pathan contributing 11 off five balls, Jadeja finished unbeaten on 61 off the same number of balls. India totalled a very impressive 285 for five, with only three wickets falling to the bowlers. When Zimbabwe went in to bat after lunch, though, Hamilton Masakadza and Taylor immediately showed they were not to be daunted.

They latched on to the bad balls and played their strokes readily and responsibly, in particular driving with certainty. The 50 came up in the ninth over with another superb drive to the boundary by Masakadza, and then Taylor first pulled and then drove sixes in an over from Vinay Kumar. After ten overs, Zimbabwe had 68 on the board. At 88, though, Masakadza tried to force a ball from Amit Mishra off the back foot and was bowled for 46, off 43 balls. Greg Lamb did not look comfortable at the start, but the 100 came up in the 17th over, which put Zimbabwe well ahead of India at that stage. Immediately afterwards Taylor went to his 50 off the same number of balls.

After this the batsmen unaccountably went through a quiet period, and were beginning to fall behind the run rate when Lamb played down the wrong line to Ravindar Jadeja’s arm ball and was trapped lbw for 27; 151 for two in the 30th over. At 176 Taylor finally departed for 81 (103 balls), caught off a cramped pull; at this stage the required run rate was almost seven and over. It might have been a good time to send in Andy Blignaut – but Charles Coventry is no slouch either. But the required rate swelled to more than eight an over, and it should now have been clear that only something extraordinary would give Zimbabwe the victory that had looked well within their grasp during the opening partnership.

Coventry suddenly exploded with a huge six over the sightscreen off Pathan, and in the next over hit another over midwicket off Mishra; a third travelled over extra cover off Pathan, all going as high as they did long. But then Yadav bowled him through the gate as he was deceived by a slower ball, for 32 off 25 balls. With five overs to go, 42 were still needed, but they were now in the batting powerplay. Ervine, on his ODI debut, reached an admirable fifty off 51 balls, and 18 runs came off the 46th over, mostly to Chigumbura; Zimbabwe were favourites again, with both batsmen playing with great judgment. Two leg-side boundaries by Ervine, who batted like an experienced international player of real class, left four off the last two overs – but they were full tosses, and India ’s inexperience was letting them down. With ten balls to spare, a top-edged pull to the boundary over the keeper’s head by Chigumbura took Zimbabwe through to a fine victory. Ervine finished with 67 and Chigumbura with 20; Blignaut was not needed after all.

Despite their sagging run rate, Zimbabwe did not panic and managed to keep their target just within the realms of possibility while keeping their wickets intact. It will have done the morale of the side tremendous good, while India lacked the experienced bowlers who would surely have bowled better at the death than the enthusiastic but raw youngsters. Full scorecard below the cut.
[Source: ZC]

India / Sri Lanka Triangular Confirmed

ZC have confirmed that Zimbabwe will host a triangular series with Sri Lanka and India after the World Twenty20. The series will be played between 26th May and 14th June, with both Harare Sports Club and Queens Sports Club hosting matches. The tri-series will be followed by a two-match Twenty20 series between Zimbabwe and India. Here's the schedule:

28 May 2010     Zimbabwe v India                Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
20 May 2010     India v Sri Lanka               Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
1 June 2010     Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka            Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
3 June 2010     Zimbabwe v India                Harare Sports Club
5 June 2010     India v Sri Lanka               Harare Sports Club
7 June 2010     Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka            Harare Sports Club
9 June 2010     Final                           Harare Sports Club

12 June 2010    Zimbabwe v India: 1st T20I      Harare Sports Club
12 June 2010    Zimbabwe v India: 2nd T20I      Harare Sports Club

Black Caps Chicken Out. Again.

Cricket New Zealand are reportedly looking to again reschedule their Future Tours Programme tour of Zimbabwe, originally scheduled for June 2009 before being initially moved to June 2010, citing "security and health" issues. Alternatively, they're prepared to play the series on neutral territory, according to their CEO Justin Vaughan:

"It is clear from our recent discussions that the government's assessment of the security situation in Zimbabwe has not changed from that of a year ago, when the scheduled tour was postponed. We have a possible window for the rescheduling of the tour next year [2011] in May/June. The other option is that we look at playing the scheduled tour in a neutral venue."

Zimbabwe & Zimbabwe XI are already slated to play Ireland and Scotland on neutral ground later this year for Intercontinental Cup matches and ODIs against Ireland, so there's precedent for this. I've already covered my thoughts on CNZ's approach to this issue in a previous article - I'll limit myself here to saying that they seem to have all the backbone of their emblem.
Cricinfo - New Zealand pull out of Zimbabwe tour

Windies go 4-1 with Another Comprehensive Win

West Indies completed their series against Zimbabwe yesterday, taking the series 4-1 - but once again, Zimbabwe's spinners made sure the Windies had to work for their win, even when chasing a well below-par total after Zimbabwe's batting imploded once again. Having won the toss, West Indies put Zimbabwe in to bat, and were immediately in the wickets as Hamilton Masakadza went without scoring. He was the first of a procession of wickets, with Darren Sammy (3/33) leading the carnage - Zimbabwe were down to #6, Charles Coventry (56), before they found someone able to put down some roots, and by then the side's chances of posting a competitive total were long gone. Coventry's departure signalled the beginning of the end, and Zimbabwe were bowled out for 161 on the final ball of the innings.

That left the West Indies with what should have been a fairly straightforward chase, on paper, and the opening pair of Adrian Barath (16) and Chris Gayle (63) led the charge, with the Windies putting on 96 runs in 15.2 overs befoew Gayle finally departed. Zimbabwe's bowlers clearly weren't going to simply lie down, though, and when Gayle, Deonarine (3) and the Bravo brothers (14 & 0) fell in quick succession there was a glimmer of light for Zimbabwe. With Gayle's early onslaught having reduced the required rate to just over 2/over, though, Zimbabwe really needed to bowl the Windies out to secure a win - but the arrival of Kieron Pollard (36 from 22 balls) signalled the end of Zimbabwe's defiance, and the winning runs were knocked off in the 28th over.

Now, if that match report sounds vaguely familiar, it is: it's a copy'n'paste of what I wrote for the 4th ODI, with a few names & scores changed. In broad strokes, though, both the 4th and 5th matches followed the same, depressing script, and that's possible the most damning indictment of Zimbabwe's performance in yesterday's match: nothing appears to have been learnt. If Zimbabwe are truly planning to return to Test cricket before the end of this year, as David Houghton has indicated, then some serious soul-searching is required as to what went wrong with this series after Zimbabwe's stellar start. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 161 (50 overs; Coventry 56, Sammy 3/33), West Indies 165/6 (27.4 overs; Gayle 63, Utseya 2/41). West Indies win by 6 wickets.

Batting Failures Cost Zimbabwe Again

West Indies secured the series win against Zimbabwe today, leading the series 3-1 with one to play after a 4-wicket win - but once again, Zimbabwe's spinners made sure the Windies had to work for their win, even when chasing a well below-par total after Zimbabwe's batting imploded once again. Having won the toss, West Indies put Zimbabwe in to bat, and were immediately in the wickets as Hamilton Masakadza went without scoring. He was the first of a procession of wickets, with Chris Gayle (4/21) leading the carnage - Zimbabwe were down to #8, Elton Chigumbura (42), before they found someone able to put down some roots, and by then the side's chances of posting a competitive total were long gone. Chigumbura's departure signalled the beginning of the end, and Zimbabwe were bowled out for 141 in the 49th over.

That left the West Indies with what should have been a fairly straightforward chase, on paper, and the opening pair of Adrian Barath (25) and Chris Gayle (32) led the charge, putting on 46 runs in the first six overs. Zimbabwe's bowlers clearly weren't going to simply lie down, though, and when Gayle, Chanderpaul (2) and Barath fell in quick succession there was a glimmer of light for Zimbabwe. After Gayle's departure, the combined spin attack managed to choke the flow of runs once more - but with Gayle's early onslaught having reduced the required rate to just over 2/over, Zimbabwe really needed to bowl the Windies out to secure a win - but only three more wickets fell before the home side knocked off the required runs, and secured the series, in the 35th over. It was a brave effort by the bowlers, led by Graeme Cremer's 3/34, but the damage to the cause had already been down by Zim's earlier batting collapse.

Another disappointing loss, then, but still some hope that Zim can pull off one more good performance in the final match on Sunday. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 141 (48.2 overs; Chigumbura 42, Bravo 4/21), West Indies 142/6 (34.3 overs; Gayle 32, Cremer 3/34). West Indies win by 4 wickets.

Windies Put Zim in Their Place with Emphatic Win

A change in scenery for the 3rd ODI earlier today, as the sides moved from Guyana to St Vincent - a move that also brought a change in conditions that seems to have knocked Zimbabwe's gameplan for six, at least for today, as the Zimbabwe Collapse™ took over from the Calypso Collapso as the main event of the day. Having won the toss, Prosper Utseya inexplicably decided to put the West Indies in to bat on a pitch that was expected to favour the side batting first. The plan was as before: use Zimbabwe's spin barrage to wrap up the Windies. Today, though, the Windies weren't playing ball - while Zimbabwe were able to keep the lid on the West Indies for most of their innings, even removing dangermen Gayle (33) and Chanderpaul (58) before they could do too much damage, the final ten overs of the Windies innings proved horribly expensive. At 40 overs, the home side were on 153/4; at the close, they'd added a massive 92 runs to reach 245/9 at the close. Zimbabwe were taking regular wickets throughout this period, but that didn't seem to bother the tail-enders, who laid into the bowling with abandon. On a pitch where 220 would have been a decent total, West Indies went beyond to give themselves a good safety margin.

Not that they needed it in the end, as the Zimbabwe Collapse™ kicked in to ruin Zimbabwe's chances. The 3rd-ball dismissal of Vusi Sibanda was the first warning, and while Hamilton Masakadza (35) and Brendan Taylor (19) when on to build a decent 2nd-wicket stand of 51, it was all downhill from there, with a steady stream of wickets - mostly inflicted by Darren Sammy (career-best figures of 4/26) and Kemar Roach (3/28) - seeing Zimbabwe fall to a very poor 104 all-out and in the process posting the lowest ODI score at Arnos Vale ("beating" Pakistan's previous record of 117). That gave the Windies a 2-1 lead in the series and a serious shot in the arm ahead of the next match on Friday, while for Zimbabwe it's back to the tactical drawing board - and hopefully into the nets for the batsmen, who once again have let the side down. Full scorecard below the cut.
West Indies 245/9 (50 overs; Chanderpaul 58, Chigumbura 2/43), Zimbabwe 104 (31.5 overs; Masakadza 35, Sammy 4/26). West Indies win by 141 runs.

West Indies Claw One Back to Level Series

The pressure was all on the West Indies ahead of the 2nd ODI in Guyana today. Zimbabwe played out of their skins to win the T20 and 1st ODI, and with conditions as Providence again set to favour spin the early indications were that the Windies would have another fight on their hands - and with Zimbabwe winning the toss and opting to bat, the visitors had the chance to set the early running. Unlike the first ODI, though, shaky batting and some decent West Indies bowling made life difficult, starting with the loss of Vusi Sibanda (5) in the first over. The third-wicket partnership of Brendan Taylor (47) and Tatenda Taibu (31) eventually got things going, and while the run-rate was never anything to write home about, that pair and later Greg Lamb (23) and Elton Chigumbura (50) were able to push the side on to 206 before the side were bowled out with one ball remaining. Nikita Miller led the West Indies bowling figures with 4/43.

Prosper Utseya had suggested during the previous match that 240-250 was the target score for the Guyana pitch - that call had proved correct then, and that meant that Zimbabwe were 30 or us runs light this time around. While Zimbabwe's spinners can work miracles when the conditions suit them, there are some tasks beyond even them - and when Windies captain Chris Gayle came out swinging during the early overs if his innings it looked that the home side were going to strut home. The spin quartet of Utseya, Ray Price, Graeme Cremer and Greg Lamb were able to turn the screws, though, restricting the West Indies batsmens' ability to play - at one point, a full 30 overs passed without a boundary being scored as the required run-rate crept towards 7/over, a period where Zimbabwe appeared to be in full control of the match. In the 37th over, though, Gayle decided that he'd had enough of playing the waiting game, and with a mighty six, and a four off the following ball, signalled the beginning of the West Indies' fightback. His new-found aggression proved his undoing in the 42nd, as a swing & miss saw Cremer claim his scalp for an impressive 88, but some of his desire had already rubbed off on partner Narsingh Deonarine (65*) who went on to seal the victory with 13 balls to spare. In truth, Gayle and Deonarine were the only two players to show any capability of dealing with Zimbabwe's "death by spin" approach, and Deonarine was helped in the closing overs by some puzzling bowling decisions by Utseya that played into the West Indies' hands, but between the two of them they were enough to be Zimbabwe's undoing.

And so the sides head to St Vincent with the series ties, and Zimbabwe's chances of pulling ahead again most likely resting on the conditions of the St Vincent pitches. But Zimbabwe but up a hell of a fight here (in truth they probablbly should have won), once again signalling that they're no longer with whipping boys of world cricket. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 206 (49.5 overs; Chigumbura 50, Miller 4/43), West Indies 208/6 (47.5 overs; Gayle 88, Price 2/31). West Indies win by 4 wickets.

Zimbabwe Claim Another Famous Upset in Guyana

The first ODI between Zimbabwe and the West Indies took place at Providence Stadium in Guyana today, with Zimbabwe claiming another upset win against a West Indies side that just don't seem to know how to deal with them. Zimbabwe won the toss and opted to bat on a pitch that some had pegged as a batting track - although it soon became clear that it was behaving similarly to the Trinidad pitch on Sunday. Good news for Zimbabwe, then - and with the side's batsmen finally finding some form, a few determined efforts saw Zimbabwe reach an impressive 254/5 from their 50 overs, with only a 15-minute rain-break spoiling the fun. Vusi Sibanda, whose international form has come in for a lot of criticism of late, remained at the crease for most of the innings, amassing an impressive 95 and surviving a number of unusual happenings - although his eventual dismissal was the most bizarre of all, with Kemar Roach choosing the direct route to bowl him out: directly through his bat, which was broken in the process. Despite Sibanda's high total, though, it was arguably Hamilton Masakadza (41) and Tatenda Taibu (56) that were the impressive performers on the day, playing Sibanda's agressive partners and keeping the score ticking over while Sibanda adopted a much slower approach. Kieran Pollard led the West Indies bowling figures with 2/59.

That left the West Indies need 255 to win - a target that it was thought would prove too much on a low & slow pitch. The start of the Windies innings was delayed by another rain shower, but once play got under way openers Chris Gayle (57) and Adrian Barath (50) set about chasing it down - the pair put on 99 for the first wicket, keeping their side in touch with the required rate, while Shivnarine Chanderpaul continued the good work after Gayle's departure. Barath followed shortly thereafter with the score on 126/2, and from there the momentum began to shift in Zimbabwe's favour, as Chanderpaul was unable to find a steady partner and Zimbabwe continued to take regular wickets. Chanderpaul's efforts were almost enough, though, especially after Zimbabwe's spinners ran out of overs. With 5 overs remaining, West Indies required 52 runs to win, a target that most Zim fans watching thought would be out of reach - but as Price and Utseya came to the end of their spells, Elton Chigumbura and Shingi Masakadza came into the attack - and suddenly things didn't look quite so rosy. Shingi did get the scalp of Chanderpaul (70), but with the Windies needing 15 off the final over, he was the man handed the responsibility of seeing out the match - on his ODI debut - and was smashed for 10 off the first two balls of the over. Left with the Windies needing 4 runs from the final three balls, though, he redeemed himself in dramatic style, taking the wickets of Dwayne Smith (4) and Sulieman Benn (0) with the next two balls - and when Kemar Roach could only manage a single off the final ball, it was all over and Zimbabwe were on their way to their target of a winning the series. As for the Windies, it couldn't get any worse from here - could it? Zimbabwe will be hoping that it can, come the 2nd ODI on Saturday. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 254/5 (50 overs; Sibanda 95, Pollard 2/59), West Indies 252/9 (50 overs; Chanderpaul 70, S Masakadza 3/36). Zimbabwe win by 2 runs.

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