The first international triangular one-day tournament in Zimbabwe proved a disaster for the home side, a disappointment for India and a triumph for West Indies, who surprised many by turning in a superb batting performance to win the final. It was their first victory in a one-day tournament since September 1999 in Singapore. India had been favourites, thanks to an efficient seam bowling attack, Sachin Tendulkar's 282 runs and a 100 per cent record in the preliminaries. Much was made in the Indian press about their failure to win finals, but in this case the match was torn from their grasp by inspired batting from the West Indian openers, Daren Ganga and Chris Gayle.
Before then, India's bowlers had kept a tight rein on the opposing batsmen, as indeed had West Indies' Cameron Cuffy, before a foot injury ruled him out, his 30 overs cost just 2.33 runs apiece. Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan formed an impressive and consistent opening pair, and Zimbabwe's 234 for six in Bulawayo was the highest total India conceded in the qualifying games. It was little short of astonishing to see how Ganga and Gayle subsequently seized the initiative so decisively after West Indies had been asked to bat first in the final.
The series enjoyed the expected dry weather and was well supported by the public. Winter play meant an early start, and generally for the first ten overs or so the ball moved about considerably in the dewy atmosphere. This gave the team winning the toss, and without fail inserting the opposition, a strong advantage. Sourav Ganguly won all five tosses for India, and only in the final did it fail him. The only other match lost by the team winning the toss was the first, when Zimbabwe, a side in crisis, relinquished their advantage with poor bowling against West Indies. They went on to lose all four matches.
It certainly didn't help that they played those games under three different captains. Heath Streak dramatically drew attention to his disagreements with his administrators over selection policy by resigning the captaincy before the opening match. When vice-captain Guy Whittall refused to take his place, Grant Flower stepped in. The dispute was resolved when Streak and coach Carl Rackemann were added to the selectors' panel, which already numbered six. Streak resumed the captaincy for the second match, but missed the third through injury, when Whittall did take over. Zimbabwe were already without Andy Flower, injured in the Second Test against India; while 18-year-old Tatenda Taibu was impressive behind the stumps, nobody could replace Flower's runs and experience.
There was further controversy when referee Denis Lindsay suspended the West Indies' wicket-keeper, Ridley Jacobs, after an incident in the final qualifier. Jacobs had "stumped" Virender Shewag with his right hand while the ball was in his left, and although the keeper, a cricketer of good reputation, did not claim the stumping, nor did he call Shewag back when his colleagues' appeal was upheld. Originally, Jacobs was to be banned for three one-day internationals in Kenya. When Lindsay discovered that he had not been picked for the Kenyan leg of the tour, the suspension was changed to the Second Test against Zimbabwe.
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