In the cricketing world of Australia and the dominant nations the Triangular ODI series in Zimbabwe between Zimbabwe, West indies and Sri Lanka passed without notice. Such partialities in the world are par for the course. But the course of that series was hardly, well, par – hardly sedate. Apart from rain interference and no result matches, there were three tight matches – very tight in fact because the result was not known till the last over.
The West Indians sustained their recent reputation for unpredictability. In recent years they have revealed a capacity to win T20 matches from nowhere with remarkable batting in the death overs. But, in Zimbabwe, they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the 6th Match after previously ending up tying a game which had seemed in their bag – again with Zimbabwe.
This aided Sri Lanka who struggled to beat the Windies, but matched and outgunned Zimbabwe in every completed game. Struggled against the West Indians? Yes, Sri Lanka did: they were outclassed in the first encounter, losing by 62 runs. However, their bowlers (especially Nuwan Pradeep) held their nerve and secured the second encounter by one run.
In sum, therefore the cricket world witnessed a short tournament of six completed games where the result went down to the final over. THAT is cricket as exciting as exhilarating.
- 1st Match: Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka at Harare – Nov 14, 2016……Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets (with 153 balls remaining) Zimbabwe 154 (41.3/50 ov); Sri Lanka 155/2 (24.3/50 ov)
2nd Match: West Indies vs Sri Lanka at Harare – Nov 16, 2016……West Indies won by 62 runs West Indies 9227 in 49 ov) Sri Lanka (163 in 43.1 ov)
- 3rd Match: Zimbabwe v West Indies at Bulawayo – Nov 19, 2016 …..Match tied Zimbabwe 257 (50/50 ov); West Indies 257/8 (50/50 ov)
- 4th Match: Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka at Bulawayo – Nov 21, 2016 …..No result Zimbabwe 55/2 (13.3/50 ov)
5th Match Sri Lanka v West Indians at Bulawayo – Nov 23, 2016 ….. Sri Lanka won by 1 run
- 6th Match: Zimbabwe v West Indies at Bulawayo – Nov 25, 2016 …. Zimbabwe won by 5 runs (D/L method) Zimbabwe 218/8 (49/49 ov); West Indies 124/5 (27.3/27.3 ov, target: 130)
- Final: Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka at Bulawayo – Nov 27, 2016……. Sri Lanka won by 6 wickets (with 75 balls remaining) Zimbabwe 160 (36.3/50 ov); Sri Lanka 166/4 (37.3/50 ov)
Liam Brickhill: “Gutted’ Holder wants team to ‘look in the mirror’,” http://www.espncricinfo.com/tri-nation-zimbabwe-2016-17/content/story/1068873.html
From the high of their opening victory over Sri Lanka, West Indies tied against Zimbabwe and then suffered two narrow defeats, by one and five runs, to slip out of contention for the tri-series final, and will leave Zimbabwe with just one win from four matches. Where did it all go wrong?
“It’s a difficult question,” West Indies captain Jason Holder said after his team’s tour-ending defeat to Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. “Luck wasn’t really in our favour in some instances but, out of the things that we could control, I didn’t think that we fielded well throughout the entire tournament, consistently.
“It’s very disappointing. It’s tough to be in this position, after starting the tour so well. At the beginning of the tour we felt we could have won the tournament, and to be in this position right now, we’re absolutely gutted. It’s a situation where we really need to look at ourselves in the mirror and see where we fell short, moving forward into the new year, and see how we can come together again and perform better.
“Today I felt Zimbabwe got too many runs, and we didn’t bat smart enough in the situation,” Holder added. “We lost wickets at crucial stages.” Zimbabwe’s 218 for 8 may have seemed a modest target, but conditions were tricky for batting and with rain around it was always possible that Duckworth/Lewis targets could come in to play. West Indies needed a steady start, but instead they lost three wickets inside the first 10 overs. Graeme Cremer used his bowlers cunningly, and for the first time in an ODI innings the first four bowlers used were all spinners. With wickets falling, and Zimbabwe getting through their overs very quickly, the hosts were able to put themselves in a strong position.
“Some credit must be given to Zimbabwe for the way they strategised: [how they went] about their innings, and to get the spinners on early and get through their overs with all this talk of the weather around,” Holder said. Holder himself very nearly pulled West Indies back into contention. He hit three of the first six balls he faced to the boundary, and followed that up with a lofted six – the only one of West Indies’ innings – down the ground. When Cremer came on to bowl the 28th over, with the drizzle getting heavier, West Indies were just eight runs from a winning score. Holder said he felt he could have continued batting in those conditions, but the umpires decided otherwise.
“At the beginning of that last over which Graeme started to bowl, I knew we had to get as close as possible to it, but it was still a risk because you didn’t want to lose a wicket as well. So I tried to go after him a little bit, but I couldn’t get hold of it. I had a word with the umpire then, and he did say that if it continued in that vein we’d consider going off. For me, I was just trying to get to that score without losing a wicket, so I was between a rock and a hard place.
“It was touch and go, to be honest. I felt the weather never really changed throughout the entire day. But the umpires used their discretion, I couldn’t really get involved. It was their decision. They felt it was becoming a little slippery for the fielders. I was willing to play through it, and I felt like we could have stayed on and played through it, but that was beyond my control.”
Yet Holder will not leave Zimbabwe with nothing to show for his troubles. Ahead of the final, the two leading run-scorers and three of the top five wicket-takers in the tri-series are in the West Indies squad.
“There are plenty of positives. We got two centuries in four games, the bowlers came in and did a really good job. And just to see the way we went out in the last game to try and chase down 331, to fall one run short… For a young group, a very inexperienced team, to get that close, credit must be given to the guys. I’m not disappointed too much in individual’s performances. Collectively, we fell short.
“To see the way we’ve grown in this tournament, the way the guys have played, I can’t fault them. It’s a situation where we need to learn, and learn quickly. We go back home now, and some people have first-class cricket, and then we have our 50-over competition in the new year. It’s a situation where we need to take every opportunity we get to play some cricket, and we’ll get better.”