The native flavour of West Indian cricket overwhelmed the Zimbabweans on the opening day of the three-nation Singapore Challenge Cup today. The West Indian four-man pace attack excelled in the morning session. Later, the top-order of the batting line-up exposed the limitations of the Zimbabwe bowling department with some explosive batting exhibition that could be expected only from a West Indian line-up.
West Indies won the match by six wickets. Tomorrow (Sept 3) is the rest day and on Saturday Zimbabwe will take on India. Chasing a victory target of 245 in 50 overs, the West Indies got off to a sensational start. Openers Sherwin Campbell (63 off 65 balls with 10 fours) and Ridley Jacobs (47off 48 balls with 3x4, 3x6) set a scorching pace cutting, pulling and driving with amazing alacrity and power.
They put on 114 in 18 overs. Hereabouts, Zimbabwe struck a purple patch. It got three wickets in the space of three overs for just six runs. Grant Flower, a left-arm spinner, got rid of the Campbell and Jimmy Adams through identical deliveries that beat the batsmen and hit the stump. These wickets came after Henry Olonga with a smart throw from the deep ran Jacobs out.
If any of the Zimbabwean admirers had entertained hopes of a grand Zimbabwe fight-back at that situation, they were only in for utter disappointment. For, Brian Lara arrived and lost no time in settling down. He smashed fours and sixes with great authority and at one moment looked as though he would win this game single-handedly. Lara put on 56 runs in just 11overs with Shivnarine Chanderpaul before top edging leg-spinner Paul Strang to put up a simple catch to Alistair Campbell.
Lara made 48 off 44 balls with three fours and four sixes. When Lara left, the score read 176 for four in 31.2 overs. New Man Ricardo Powell walked in. This big-hitting middle-order batsman was playing only his third One-Day International match. In his earlier two matches (World Cup 1999) he had made just four runs. Naturally he must be longing to establish himself as an effective middle-order batsman.
Powell achieved that in a magnificent style. His lusty pull-drives and huge straight drives demoralised the bowlers and it was all over by the fourth ball of the 44th over with the Chanderpaul--Powell pair adding 71 runs. Of these runs, 51 came from Powell. That should speak for his dominance. He hit four fours and four sixes. The last two sixes came off the last two balls of the day bowled by Zimbabwe's debutante Andrew Blignaut. Powell faced just 36 balls.