October 30, 2000

Zimbabwe Board XI v Natal B: One-Day Match


At Kwekwe Sports Club; 29 October 2000

The Zimbabwe Board XI completed a `double' over the visiting Natal B team by defeating them by four wickets in the one-day game, following on from their three-day victory the previous day. They owed it all to former national all-rounder Craig Evans, though, who hammered 85 not out while his colleagues failed to impress.

Prolonged overnight rain crept under the covers at the Sports Club, leaving a few small damp patches that delayed the start of play while the ground staff lit fires over the offending areas to speed up drying. The sky remained overcast and further rain looked distinctly possible. But, after much work by the staff, the umpires decided play could start with 100 minutes lost and the match reduced to 40 overs per side.

Natal B won the toss and decided to bat, anticipating the possible use of Duckworth-Lewis which the players believe favours the team batting first. Whatever the reason, Zimbabwe's bowlers did not bowl a particularly good line and Natal were soon off at five runs an over. Ashraf Mall (66) again helped to give his team a good start and shared a good third-wicket partnership with Wade Wingfield, but his dismissal signalled a brief middle-order slump. Some unrefined slogging in the final overs gave a total of 195 for six.

Nobody seemed quite sure how valuable a total this was under the ground conditions and with ten fewer overs bowled. However, Trevor Gripper and Gavin Rennie started the reply with all the confidence in the world - perhaps too much, for both threw their wickets away in quick succession soon after reaching double figures.

Craig Wishart looked in impressive form, driving so powerfully over the damp outfield that the fielders were given little chance. Then on 30 he pushed back a tame return catch, and the Board XI appeared to be throwing it away. So they would, were it not for Craig Evans, who seems to play a type of reverse Russian roulette when he bats. Nine times out of ten he does nothing' on the tenth occasion he wins the match.

This was the tenth occasion. He played himself in carefully and then launched a typically blistering assault on the hapless Natal bowlers. His only significant partner was Greg Lamb, who scored 15 of a stand of 53, and after his dismissal it was Evans alone. He powered his way to 85 not out off 65 deliveries, with 5 sixes and 6 fours, and the Board XI raced to victory with 22 balls in hand.