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On March 20, 2000, West Indies defended a paltry target of 99 runs against Zimbabwe at Port of Spain in Trinidad. Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Reon King and Franklyn Rose bowled out Zimbabwe for 63 and won the match for West Indies by 35 runs. This was only the second occasion in Test cricket where a double-digit target was defended. Shrikant Shankar revisits the match.
In August 1882, Australia defended a target of 85 runs against England at The Oval in London. That match gave rise to The Ashes. In the entirety of the 1900s, never did a side lose a Test while chasing a target in double digits. Then on March 20, 2000, West Indies defended a target of 99 runs against the touring Zimbabwe side at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad. This match gave rise to no such occasion as the one almost 118 years earlier did, but it was a significant result nonetheless.
Zimbabwe tour of West Indies 2000
Zimbabwe had toured the Caribbean in March-April 2000 for a two-match Test series and a One-Day International (ODI) tri-series involving Pakistan. The Tests came first. The first Test was to be played at Port of Spain in Trinidad from March 16-20. Zimbabwe were led by Andy Flower and West Indies had a new captain in Jimmy Adams. This was one of Zimbabwe’s strongest teams, as it was in their golden period between the 1999 and 2003 World Cups. West Indies were not the force of old, but they had world-class players in Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul was there as well with Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds making their Test debuts. Brian Murphy was Zimbabwe’s debutant. It was Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower who won the toss and elected to field first. Zimbabwe’s strike bowler Heath Streak struck on the third delivery by dismissing Adrian Griffith LBW for a duck. Things just got better for Zimbabwe from thereon. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals and West Indies were bowled out for 187 in only 80.4 overs. Hinds remained unbeaten on 44 while Gayle (33) and Sherwin Campbell (24) got some runs. Streak got four wickets while Murphy picked up three wickets with his leg-spin.
Zimbabwe’s response did not get off to a great start as Ambrose dismissed Neil Johnson LBW for a first-ball duck. In the second over bowled by Walsh, Grant Flower was caught by Campbell for another duck. Murray Goodwin was also dismissed by Walsh for 20. But from 27 for three, Trevor Gripper and Andy Flower shared a 117-run partnership to guide Zimbabwe. But once Gripper was dismissed for 41 by Ambrose, Zimbabwe lost wickets quickly. Stuart Carlisle (17) and Streak (20) provided some resistance, but it was not enough as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 236. Andy Flower remained unbeaten on 113 off 290 deliveries. Zimbabwe had taken a 49-run lead after the first innings.
West Indies’ second innings was even more miserable as this time they were bowled out for 147 in 75 overs. Only three batsmen got into double figures — Campbell (23), Chanderpaul (49) and Adams (27). Streak was the wrecker in chief, as he picked up five wickets — a total of nine wickets in the Test match. West Indies’ innings had ended during the first over on Day Five. Zimbabwe only had to chase 99 runs to win their first Test match against West Indies. History was beckoning. But the West Indies fast bowlers had other ideas.
They obviously had the awesome twosome in Ambrose and Walsh. Then were Reon King and the temperamental Franklyn Rose as well in their ranks. Grant Flower and Johnson opened the batting for the Africans. Johnson was caught by Campbell off Walsh for only three runs. There was no cause for concern as Gripper came into bat. Along with Grant, Gripper added a slow and excruciating 16-run partnership at a run-rate of 1.11. King struck Gripper’s pads and got him out LBW for three runs off 37 deliveries in the 18th over.
Then came partnership that was almost twice as quick between Grant and Goodwin. Their stand was worth 17 runs at 2.08. Goodwin handed a catch to Ridley Jacobs behind the wicket as Rose got his first wicket in the innings. Goodwin’s wicket for eight runs off 25 deliveries was the last wicket before lunch on Day Five. By this time centurion from the first innings Andy had joined his brother at the middle. In the fourth over after the lunch interval, Rose dismissed Andy for five as Jacobs took the catch. The score was 47 for four and panic was beginning to set in for the Zimbabweans. The West Indies fast bowlers sensed a great chance to bowl out Zimbabwe.
Grant was the next to go for 26 off 126 deliveries. He was bowled by Walsh. At the time the score was 51 for five, so, Grant had scored more than double of Zimbabwe’s score. It was just downhill from there for the Africans. Carlisle (3) too gave a catch to Jacobs as Rose got his third wicket. Streak was dismissed LBW four deliveries later for a duck. Rose had got his fourth wicket. Alistair Campbell (6) was bowled by Ambrose. Henry Olonga (0) too was dismissed by Ambrose as Chanderpaul took the catch. Ambrose finished of the Zimbabwe innings as he bowled last man Pommie Mbangwa also for a duck. Zimbabwe were all out for a only 63 runs in 47 overs.
West Indies had won the first Test by 35 runs. Ambrose was the Man of the Match for his match total of seven wickets. But one got the feeling that Rose contributed his fair share to the victory. Apart from Andy Flower’s 117 not out in Zimbabwe’s first innings, no other batsmen from either side scored even a half-century. West Indies went onto win the second and final Test by 10 wickets at Kingston in Jamaica. For Zimbabwe, it was a case of ‘So near and yet so far’.
West Indies 187 (Sherwin Campbell 24, Chris Gayle 33, Wavell Hinds 46*; Heath Streak 4 for 45, Brian Murphy 3 for 32) & 147 (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 49; Heath Streak 5 for 27, Henry Olonga 2 for 28) beat Zimbabwe 236 (Trevor Gripper 41, Andy Flower 113*; Curtly Ambrose 4 for 42, Chris Gayle 3 for 25) & 63 (Grant Flower 26; Curtly Ambrose 3 for 8, Franklyn Rose 4 for 19) by 35 runs.
Man of the Match: Curtly Ambrose
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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