Windies annihilate Zimbabwe
Having beaten an erratic Bangladesh side on home soil a few months ago, Zimbabwe arrived here with the aim of proving their competitiveness at this level, but a West Indies side operating at well below full throttle gave them a cruel reality check at the Motera Stadium. After Prosper Utseya had won the toss and elected to bat, Zimbabwe were skittled out for 85 in just 30.1 overs, with the bowlers breaking through at will every so often. And a Chris Gayle blitz ensured that a lunch break wouldn't be required, with West Indies knocking off the runs in just 14.2 overs.
Anthony Ireland and Ed Rainsford had bowled a maiden apiece as West Indies started sedately, but Gayle, who had dawdled 17 balls for his first two runs, exploded into action in the eighth over, slamming Ireland for six and four over midwicket before clipping one down to the square leg fence.
Zimbabwe didn't help their cause with some awful fielding. With Gayle on 21, Utseya dropped a chance running back from deep cover and after Gayle had rubbed it in with two nonchalant lofts over the leg side, Ireland put down a simple chance at deep backward point, leaving Rainsford to wonder just what he needed to do to pick up a wicket.
Gayle's 34-ball 41 ended with another casual hoick, but two glorious sixes from Brian Lara finished off the job and continued the Champions Trophy's tradition of hideous mismatches. If not for the lure of Lara, even the 32 folk that bought tickets for this shambles might have had second thoughts.
The first half of the match had been every bit as one-sided. Though West Indies decided not to try out the express pace of Fidel Edwards, the opening duo were more than a handful for a Zimbabwe side that haven't beaten top-notch opposition in eons. Both Jerome Taylor and Ian Bradshaw struggled to settle into a steady length and line on a placid pitch, but the odd good delivery was more than enough to see off feeble resistance.
Bradshaw started the slide, darting one through Chamu Chibhabha's defence, and Taylor then did Hamilton Masakadza for pace. Tafadzwa Mufambisi and Brendan Taylor then threatened the briefest of revivals, with Mufambisi stroking a gorgeous straight-drive off Taylor, but a lethal bouncer put paid to such hopes. A shocking bit of running from Taylor then plunged the innings into further strife, and when Dwayne Smith produced the perfect outswinger to Stuart Matsikenyeri, half the side was back in the dressing room within 13 overs.
A direct hit from Wavell Hinds saw off the chunky Piet Rinke, and Elton Chigumbura's attempt to slog the team out of trouble only resulted in another wicket for Smith. With the lowest Champions Trophy total - the United States made a whopping 65 against Australia in the last edition - under threat, Utseya and Ireland merely delayed the inevitable. But for Utseya's gritty 27, the embarrassment would have been even more acute.
Gayle proved effective for the mopping up, and his violent flails as the shadows lengthened ensured that the electricity bill for the lights would be a very small one indeed.
How they were out
Chamu Chibhabha b Bradshaw 1 (9 for 1)
No idea about one that nipped back
Hamilton Masakadza b Taylor 1 (10 for 2)
Beaten by swing and pace, off stump pegged back
Tafadzwa Mufambisi c Baugh b Taylor 18 (31 for 3)
Surprised by a quick bouncer, fended behind
Brendan Taylor run out (Chanderpaul) 7 (31 for 4)
Suicidal attempt at a single after playing the ball straight to the fielder at short mid-off
Stuart Matsikenyeri c Baugh b Smith 7 (39 for 5)
Undone by late away movement, regulation catch
Piet Rinke run out (Hinds) 1 (46 for 6)
Sent back, and caught short by the direct hit from midwicket
Elton Chigumbura c Taylor b Smith 10 (58 for 7)
Attempt to biff over the top goes no further than mid-off
Anthony Ireland b Gayle 6 (82 for 8)
Played inside an off break, off stump pushed back
Ed Rainsford c Bravo b Gayle 0 (84 for 9)
Slash outside off stump goes to the left of slip, sharp catch
Prosper Utseya lbw Gayle 27 (85 all out)
Trapped in front going for a pull
Chris Gayle c Kamungozi b Chigumbura 41 (66 for 1)
One hoick too many, and the top edge drops to the man at midwicket
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo