In the run up to the match, the talk centred on Chris Gayle and his form and whether he could turn it around or not. Zimbabwe acknowledged that Gayle would be a concern, but Hamilton Masakadza, at a press conference, assured supporters: “We have our plans against him”. The big question was if things would go to plan.
They wouldn’t. And the retweet by Dave Cameron, the president of the West Indies Cricket Board, of a tweet by a fan – DrGibraun – may have been the catalyst for a series of very unfortunate events for Zimbabwe.
West Indies won the toss and decided to bat, which was just as good as Zimbabwe winning the toss because they would have put in West Indies anyway.
Two critical moments in the West Indies innings, which proved costly, were the lives from a sitter dropped by Tendai Chatara off Sikandar Raza and then Chatara having Gayle caught off a no-ball. To add insult to injury, he had him caught again on the free hit.
Throughout the carnage, the supporters at the ground did not despair and continued with the singing and dancing, the DJ playing the inspirational song by former Zimbabwe fast bowler Henry Olonga and also tracks from the popular Zimbabwe dancehall artist Winky D.
Gayle (almost) carrying his bat against any team automatically means that the plans haven’t worked. Too many extras, 24 in all, did not help the cause. An article suggested banned bowler Prosper Utseya’s offspin could have been effective – Raza was the only one to shine, completing his quota with 0/45 with the only maiden in the match, which was bowled at Gayle; I expected Zimbabwe to bowl Stuart Matsikenyeri, who came in for injured Solomon Mire, especially after Raza’s success.
As disheartening as it was from a Zimbabwe point of view, I was looking at it from another perspective – we could have set a record by chasing the score down.
While Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams were at the crease, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope, but the partnership of 80 came to an end with Taylor being given out to a suspect caught-behind decision. A fan commented: “And the MOM is equally shared by Gayle and ‘the third umpire’.”
This had me wondering why umpires are not taken to task for bad decisions. First it was James Taylor and, now, Brendon Taylor.
And then Chatara provided some comic relief as he ran on to the ground without a helmet.
Alistair Campbell is still confident of Zimbabwe making the quarterfinals. Despite the two losses, he writes, “we’re still alive with the possibility of a quarterfinal place remaining a reality – not just statistically, but because we are playing well enough to produce an upset”.
I agree. We are in it till the fat lady sings.
And the captain ends with a gem where he says, “We hope we will be able to chase a lower score.”
Seems Zimbabwe have no intention of setting the tone of any game they play, opting to chase each time.
This article was first published by Wisden India