THREE years ago, the Zimbabwe cricket team got their tour of the West Indies off to a great start with a shock win in a Twenty20 (T20) encounter.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
They will be hoping to draw inspiration from that performance when the two teams clash in the opening one-day international (ODI) at the National Stadium in Grenada today.
The shock T20 win in Port of Spain was to be followed by another win in the first ODI before the Windies bounced back emphatically to win the next four ODIs and clinch a 4-1 series win.
West Indies wicket keeper Denesh Ramdin, who will make a return to the side, yesterday warned his teammates against taking Zimbabwe lightly, making reference to the last tour between the two sides.
“We need to play better all-round cricket. We need to be disciplined when we play against Zimbabwe. They put up a really good fight against us last time they were here in the Caribbean,” Ramdin told the West Indies Cricket Board’s official website.
“My form is ‘there’ and I am feeling confident with the bat and I have been working twice as hard to make sure I get runs when I’m out in the middle,” Ramdin said.
“Behind the stumps, I worked overtime to make sure that I was fit and ready when the selectors called on me.”
Ramdin, who has played 94 ODIs since making his debut in 2005, said he was clear on his role within the team.
A lot has changed in the two camps since that tour in 2010 with Zimbabwe returning to Test cricket while the West Indies have recently undergone a revival which recently saw them win the World Twenty20.
However, one fact that still remains is that Zimbabwe will go into the tour as underdogs and the Windies overwhelming favourites to complete a clean sweep over the touring side.
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe gave themselves a huge confidence booster by comfortably beating the University of West Indies (UWI) Vice-Chancellor’s XI by 77 runs in their only warm-up match.
It will be crucial for Zimbabwe not to get carried away by the warm-up win as the West Indies did not use their entire ODI squad in the match except for recalled batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan who stroked 90 runs.
Zimbabweans batted first and posted 346 for seven off their 50 overs with opener Vusi Sibanda top scoring with 145 before retiring while his teammates managed to get some time in the middle.
Hamilton Masakadza had the second highest contribution of 56 runs while Tino Mawoyo (30), Regis Chakabva (41) also made some meaningful contributions.
In reply, the UWI Vice-Chancellor’s XI got off to a poor start at six for two early on, but consolidated with the aid of Sarwan.
Sarwan, who was a late addition into the squad in an effort to regain form, managed 90 runs as UWI Vice-Chancellor posted a respectable 269 all out in 48,4 overs.
Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher must have been happy to see his strike bowler Kyle Jarvis claiming two early wickets and his chief spinner in the ODIs, Prosper Utseya, finishing with three wickets.
Zimbabwe are expected to welcome their captain Brendan Taylor into the side. He had remained behind due to illness.
Taylor is expected to add more firepower to a strong batting line-up which already has Sibanda, Mawoyo, Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha.