Gayle leads Windies to crucial victory

Chris Gayle and Narsingh Deonarine hit half-centuries as West Indies beat Zimbabwe by four wickets in the second one-day international on Saturday.

Zimbabwe failed to successfully defend a target score of 207, as Gayle collected the top score of 88 from 111 balls and Deonarine supported with 65 from 85 balls.

The result brought West Indies level 1-1 in the five-match series, after Zimbabwe won the opener on Thursday at the same venue.

It was also West Indies’ first victory over international opposition, since a depleted side prevailed over Bangladesh by five runs in a Twenty20 International last August in St Kitts.

“This is a big relief,” said West Indies captain Gayle.

“Hopefully, this is the first of many to come.

“I must commend Zimbabwe about the way they have gone about their business in this series. They have played some good cricket, and they have put us under a lot of pressure.

“It wasn’t an easy game, but I am happy that we rebounded, and we won this game. Hopefully, we can carry on for the remainder of the series.”

Elton Chigumbura had struck five fours in 50 from 72 balls, as Zimbabwe were dismissed for 206 in 49.5 overs after they decided to bat.

The Zimbabweans batting was dismantled by left-arm spinner Nikita Miller with a career-best spell of four wickets for 43 runs from 10 overs, and fast bowler Kemar Roach with three for 37 from
9.5 overs.

Zimbabwe appeared to have taken control of the match, when West Indies declined to 85 for four in the 26th over in their chase.

The Zimbabwean spin bowlers were again squeezing the life out of the West Indies batting, when Deonarine joined fellow left-hander Gayle.

But the visitors could not maintain their hold on the match, as Deonarine, in particular, and Gayle gradually loosened their grip in a stand of 83 for the fifth wicket.

But leg-spinner Graeme Cremer had Gayle stumped with West Indies still needing 39 to get from the last 49 balls.

When Price had Kieron Pollard caught at long-on three overs later, Zimbabwe were on their toes, and West Indies were on the edge of their seats.

But this time, there was no late drama, as Darren Sammy hit Price to long-off for four to seal the victory.

“We just believed that if we could keep bowling in partnerships, we could upset them,” said Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya.

“The ball started to turn [for our spinners], and it was also keeping low. But we just did not have enough runs on the board to keep up the pressure.”
“We probably came up a little short on the batting side. We never got a partnership up front, and we kept losing wickets at key moments, so that’s why we were about 20 runs short of setting a decent target.”

The two sides now travel to the island of St Vincent for the remaining three ODIs on March 10, 12, and 14. – AFP

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