23 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Zim Crush to Big Loss

Zimbabwe won the toss, and West Indies everything following that, inflicting their heaviest defeat on the visitors in the first of three ODIs yesterday. They bludgeoned their way to a

huge total after being asked to bat and then derailed the chase soon after it began.

West Indies halted on 337-4, and Zimbabwe had shown on the field they were playing their first international game since the World Twenty20 last year.

To expect a markedly improved performance with the bat would have been too much.

They were restricted to 181-9, in reply, with Malcolm Waller the only showing resistance with a half century.

Johnson Charles led the assault with a superbly paced hundred that came on the back of his maiden century in Melbourne against Australia.

West Indies had lost all five ODIs on that tour, but settled in at home against a friendly Zimbabwe attack.

Kieran Powell did the early running in a mammoth opening stand with Charles and Darren Bravo rounded off a hopeless outing for Zimbabwe with serious big-hitting towards the end that gave him his maiden ODI century.

Charles and Powell weren't tested much and received numerous loose deliveries in a century opening partnership - the first for West Indies in ODIs since May 2011 - that came at a healthy rate.

Fast bowler Kyle Jarvis and legspinner Natsai Mushangwe, playing only his second ODI, were the only Zimbabwe bowlers who bothered West Indies to an extent.

Jarvis began promisingly, his accuracy and slight movement in the air and off the pitch forcing the openers to be cautious. But Zimbabwe leaked runs consistently from the other end, and also conceded several boundaries through misfields in the deep.

Prosper Utseya opened with the second new ball and was hit out of the attack by Powell, who stepped out and lofted him over extra cover and straight down the ground.

Mpofu replaced Utseya, and got the same treatment, as Powell lashed him through the off side for two fours in his opening over.

Mpofu might have gone for more than the 20 runs he did from his first two overs but the outfield, heavy from overnight rain, ended up saving a few boundaries for Zimbabwe.

Brendan Taylor was forced to use his part-time bowlers early, although the legspinner Mushangwe did get some turn and bounce.

The part-timers were bound to go for runs at some stage on the sedate pitch.

Charles, dropped on 37 off a difficult, diving chance by Vusi Sibanda at midwicket off Utseya, cashed in against Hamilton Masakadza and Malcolm Waller. Cutting and sweeping for fours, he nudged past Powell's score. Powell gave it away in the 29th over, top-edging a pull off a Mpofu half-tracker to deep square leg but Charles showed no signs of slowing down, heaving fours and sixes regularly.

Darren Bravo arrived and played himself in for the batting Powerplay, which was to fetch 59 runs. Taylor began the Powerplay with Mushangwe who was taken for a six each by Charles and Darren Bravo. Even as Darren Bravo continued to flay wide deliveries through the covers, Taylor turned to Jarvis who had Charles lbw on 117 with his second delivery, only for the decision to be overturned on review, with replays showing the ball headed down leg.

Charles responded with more punishment for Mpofu before the seamer got a yorker right in the 39th over. Charles departed for 130 off 111 having converted a steady start into a sustained onslaught.

Darren Bravo was on 33 off 35 at this stage, and despite failures for the promoted Andre Russell and the stand-in captain Dwayne Bravo, he ensured West Indies did not slow down. Jarvis and Mpofu were taken apart with powerful straight hits as he went after everything, full, short, or good length.

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