Zimbabwe and West Indies have easy outings

In Nagpur and Delhi yesterday, Canada and the Netherlands were routed comprehensively by Zimbabwe and West Indies respectively. With the big win, both the teams kept alive their hopes of making the quarter finals in their respective groups. The Associates’ cause was further dented by their inability to compete with the top teams.

In Nagpur, Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura won the toss and opted to bat in the day game. A nice batting track awaited their batsmen. However, Canada’s seamers started impressively. With the very first ball of the day, Khurram Chohan trapped Brendan Taylor plumb with a delivery that nipped back after pitching. Harvir Baidwan then trapped Charles Coventry in front as he attempted to play across the line. Zimbabwe were in trouble at 7/2.

Tatenda Taibu and Sean Ervine put together such a good partnership that 325 seemed a possibility at one stage. Both saw through the phase where the ball was doing a bit and as the pitch dried, they started playing their shots. The partnership yielded 181 in just 27.5 overs. Balaji Rao got some extra bounce on a ball and it took the inside edge of Ervine’s bat for wicketkeeper Ashish Bagai to take a simple catch. This started another slide for Zimbabwe as they lost the next five wickets for the addition of only 52 runs.

Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer batted sensibly and ensured Zimbabwe got a good total on board with a partnership of 41 runs for the 8th wicket. Zimbabwe scored 298/9 in their allotted 50 overs as WD Balaji Rao was the pick of the bowlers with 4/57 from his 10 overs. Rao used to play Ranji Trophy for Tamil Nadu and Railways before migrating to Canada and his knowledge of the pitches and conditions came in handy today.

Canada had a tall ask and it required a good effort from their top order to at least make a match of this. However, the Zimbabwean spinners put such a tight leash on the proceedings that they were unable to come to grips with the spinning deliveries and lost wickets at regular intervals. I had remarked at the end of Zimbabwe’s first game that their spinners would do well on Indian pitches. They did exactly that as all the ten Canadian wickets went to the four pronged spin attack – Ray Price and Graeme Cremer picked three each and Utseya and Greg Lamb grabbed two – as Zimbabwe won by a big margin of 175 runs.

Zimbabwe’s spinners need to sustain their form in the matches ahead and I just get the feeling that their match against New Zealand will be crucial. If they can beat New Zealand, they might edge them out to the quarter finals. Canada have no choice but to put up more decent performances in their future encounters.

The match in the afternoon at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi saw West Indies come to grips with a Netherlands team that gave England a run for its money in the previous game. One expected a tight encounter given West Indies’ recent poor form. The Dutch captain Peter Borren won the toss and strangely decided to field first.

Devon Smith started more aggressively than his illustrious partner Chris Gayle as West Indies wrested the initiative in the opening overs. It helped that the Dutch bowlers were not accurate and sprayed the ball all over the place. Gayle, though slow to start, opened up with three fours in one Ryan ten Doeschate over and looked in ominous form before he was dismissed playing the ball straight to the fielder at long off just when the batting Powerplay had been taken.

This brought the explosive Kieron Pollard to the crease and he murdered the Dutch attack with a brutal fifty that came off only 23 balls. He struck five fours and four sixes before he was dismissed in the 48th over. He had by then ensured that West Indies crossed 300. Pieter Seelaar was the pick of the Dutch bowlers with an impressive 3/45 off 10 tidy overs.

A lot depended on the Dutch openers to give them a good start like they did against England. However, the quick and impressive Kemar Roach and the left arm spinner Sulieman Benn ran through the batting and only Tom Cooper with an unbeaten 55 runs provided any resistance. Benn picked the very important wickets of Alexei Kervezee, Ryan ten Doeschate and Tom de Grooth. Roach helped himself to a hat-trick by trapping Seelaar and Bernard Loots plumb in front and then crashing through the defences of Berend Westdijk. Roach finished with figures of 6/27 and was named man of the match in the win by 215 runs.

West Indies will be encouraged by the performances of Pollard and Roach. Pollard needs to show he can score against the big teams as well. Whether they make the quarter finals will depend a lot on how they approach the remaining games. Getting through Ireland may be possible, but England, Bangladesh and India will be very tough. The Netherlands need to regroup and show that their performance today was an aberration. A poor decision at the toss probably cost them this match.

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I'm an avid reader and writer. Reading gets me a feeling of understanding the world through different perspectives and writing helps me outline my thoughts from the cobwebs that the mind has trapped it in!

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