July 6, 2000

West Indies accelerate after steady start

Bristol, 30 overs: West Indies 103 for two (Hinds 41, Lara 1)

Bryan Strang, bowling speed in the lower seventies, opened for Zimbabwe to Adrian Griffith of West Indies in the NatWest Series limited-overs match at Bristol - two singles nudged to third man coming off his first over. After the rain of the preceding days the ground at the start was less than half full, but encouragingly with a large proportion of children.

Nkala had a close lbw appeal, although off the front foot, against Gayle rejected by umpire Peter Willey in his second over, and both bowlers beat the batsmen off the pitch occasionally; in fact after several overs they were showing signs of frustration at being tied down by accurate bowling and tight fielding. The first boundary did not come until the ninth over when Gayle, who had scored only two singles before then, drove Strang through the covers, and then lashed three more off-side boundaries in Nkala's next over. In his following over, though, Nkala struck back by having Griffith (10) caught by Brent at mid-off lashing out with a touch of desperation; West Indies 33 for one.

Gayle continued to bombard the covers with his powerful drives, and greeted Brent in his first over with a lofted four, almost a six, wide of midwicket. Hinds excelled that with a six over Brent's head as the West Indian batsmen slowly began to establish their dominance.

Hinds followed this up by swinging Viljoen to the square-leg boundary when the left-arm spinner came on to bowl the 20th over, and some of the heads began to droop as the fielders knew they hadn't the firepower to do anything about the accelerating run rate, now up almost to four an over. Hinds enjoyed an escape on 34 when he lobbed a ball from Brent high into the vacant mid-off position, but no fielder was within reach. The 100 came up in the 28th over, fine fielding and a slow pitch at this stage making up for toothless bowling.

He who hesitates...

It seemed that the only way the batsmen could be parted was with a run-out - and that was what happened. Hinds played Whittall into the covers where Grant Flower fielded; as it was to his right (he being a left-handed fielder) there was probably a quick run there, and Gayle thought so, charging down the pitch unilaterally.

Hinds stayed put; the throw was to the wrong end, the keeper's, but with the two Caribbean left-handers stopping in the batsman's crease for a summit conference to discuss the rapidly deteriorating situation, there was all the time in the world for Andy Flower to lob the ball to the bowler to complete the run-out. Gayle made 41 out of 101 for two.