The five-match ODi series between the West Indies and England kicks off later today (20th March), and the first two matches are to be played at the Providence stadium in Guyana.
When England last toured the West Indies five years ago, the first ODI was also in Guyana but on that occasion it was at the famous Bourda ground, and that game turned out to be a classic contest, and to whet the appetite we look back at that epic encounter.
England came into the ODI series with a lot of confidence as just a couple of weeks earlier they had won a Test series in the Caribbean for the first time in 36 years.
Brian Lara was ruled out of the first ODI due to injury, which meant that Ramnaresh Sarwan was due to captain the West Indies for the first time, on his home ground.
Heavy rain meant that the encounter was reduced from 50 overs to a 30 over contest. England won the toss and decided to field first and the tourists made the perfect start when Darren Gough bowled the dangerous Chris Gayle for two to leave the hosts seven for one. Things went from bad to worse for the West Indies and when Sarwan was adjudged LBW for a second ball duck off the bowling of Andrew Flintoff, the hosts were reeling with their score on 25 for three.
Sarwan’s dismissal left the Guyanese crowd in stunned silence, and it was left to another local boy, Shiv Chanderpaul to keep the West Indies in the game. Chanderpaul opened the innings with Gayle and he started his innings in a very cautious manner, indeed after facing 50 deliveries Chanderpaul had only registered 14 runs and the crowd were starting to get restless, however Chanderpaul grew up on this ground and in the second half of his innings he burst to life smashing 70 from the next 46 balls that he faced, as he scored an unbeaten 84 from 96 balls, which included two sixes. Chanderpaul’s innings helped his team to what seems like a very competitive total of 156 for five from their 30 overs.
Chasing 157 for victory England made the worst possible start to their run chase as skipper Michael Vaughan was caught by wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs for a third ball duck in the first over off the bowling of Merv Dillon. England struggled to get any momentum in their innings and the tourists lost wickets at regular intervals and when all rounder Rikki Clarke was run out, England were 120 for seven and appeared to be heading for defeat.
With the run rate required almost ten runs an over it was desperate times for England but wicket-keeper Chris Read played a tremendous cameo of 27 from just 15 balls which included three towering sixes off a hapless Corey Collymore as England somehow managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and record their first ever victory in Guyana in four attempts.
Five years on the two sides meet again and with both sides being so consistent in being inconsistent, prepare to expect the unexpected.
© Cricket World 2009