Zimbabwe humble West Indies by 31 runs

Published: Saturday, December 1, 2007, 0:40 [IST]
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Harare: West Indies suffered a shock 31-run defeat to Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club here Friday despite Shivnarine Chanderpaul striking his eighth ODI century, scoring 127 not out.

The unfancied hosts scored 274-8 in their 50 overs, with the West Indians managing just 243-8 in reply, to take a surprise 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

Zimbabwe had been put into bat by Chris Gayle. The West Indies captain expected the heavy clouding and an early 9.30 a.m. start to give his attack every opportunity.

But all seven top order Zimbabweans got to double figures. Justice Chibhabha anchored the innings with 73 and Stuart Matsikenyere hit 55 off 40 balls.

They helped to build what was always going to be a formidable total for the West Indian batsmen to attack. But the tourists were struggling right from the start of their innings. Gayle was out in the third over for just two runs and the West Indians then found themselves on 22-2 due to the departure of Devon Smith.

The arrival of Chanderpaul promised to change the tone. Indeed he was there at the end, having passed the 7,000 runs career mark in one-day internationals, getting to 7,113.

But he used up 138 balls in the process and never took command of proceedings. The story is told by his two sixes but only five other boundaries.

His main partner Runako Morton, although an imposing figure at the crease, scored 54 runs but he hardly middled a ball. He was clean bowled through mounting frustration.

The West Indies were never able to build up a challenging momentum. They used up 36 overs to reach 139 runs, a deficit of 135 with only 14 overs remaining. And when 10 overs were left they still wanted almost 12 an over to win. In the closing overs their task became near impossible as Zimbabwe's fielders concentrated in cutting off boundaries.

West Indies are now crucially aware that they are in a fight on this tour. The next match is at this ground on Sunday.

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