St George’s, Grenada: Ramnaresh Sarwan capitalised on an outrageous bit of good fortune to hit his first one-day century for three years and guide the West Indies to a series-clinching seven-wicket win over Zimbabwe on Sunday.
Responding to Zimbabwe’s challenging total of 273 for eight, the 32-year-old Guyanese right-hander put aside the torment of a short tour of Australia earlier in the month and finally stamped his return to the international scene with an unbeaten 120 — his fifth ton and highest ODI score.
It ensured the target was overhauled off the final ball of the penultimate over, to the delight of a boisterous home crowd.
It could have all gone so very differently, however, as he benefited from an umpiring error and the Zimbabweans also missed the opportunity to have the decision overturned, which would have seen Sarwan run out for 53.
Sarwan’s generous slice of luck came as he dashed for a single and Chamu Chibhabha’s throw to the non-striker’s end hit the stumps directly. Presiding umpire Peter Nero ruled “not out” on the appeal, choosing — against general convention — not to seek confirmation of the decision from the television umpire.
TV replays showed Sarwan to be well out of his ground when the bails were removed, and although it was reason for justifiable anguish for the Zimbabweans, they failed to exercise their right of referral via the same television technology before the next ball was bowled.
Opening the batting for only the second time in his near 13-year senior international career, the former captain gave the hosts an excellent platform in an opening stand of 111 with Kieran Powell (57).
After Hamilton Masakadza had removed Powell and Darren Bravo in the space of three deliveries in the 26th over, Sarwan got good support from Narsingh Deonarine (42) before Kieron Pollard belted an unbeaten 41 off just 20 deliveries to ensure that victory was achieved.
Earlier, Masakadza was one of three Zimbabweans to hit half-centuries in justifying their captain’s decision to bat first.
Craig Ervine led the way with 80 while Masakadza contributed 60, featuring in a 110-run fourth-wicket partnership with Ervine after Vusi Sibanda had set the tone for the innings with a stroke-filled 51 at the top of the order.
“Definitely the guys put their hands up and fought harder today,” said Zimbabean captain Brendan Taylor at the end.
“We have to give credit to Sarwan for his innings, but we can definitely take a lot of positives from this match.”
Despite Sarwan’s match-winning hundred, the man of the match award went to Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies captain taking career-best ODI figures of six for 43, only the eighth West Indian bowler to claim six or more wickets in a one-day international innings.
It lifted him to fourth on the all-time list of West Indies wicket-takers in one-dayers with 157.
“I’m very happy for Sarwan. His class really showed today,” Bravo noted in reflection.
“It’s great to be among the wickets again and to be mentioned among the legends of West Indies cricket is something really special.”
West Indies won the first match at the same venue by 156 runs on Friday while the third and final game will also be played in Grenada on Tuesday.