Chevrons fans rock on cricket’s Super Saturday the Chevrons are attracting almost a capacity crowd each time they host an international game, whether at Harare Sports Club or Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.

It’s one of sports’ most marketable catchphrases; but sometimes, it’s spot on.

Last Saturday was one of those days.

In Harare, as the race to the World Cup became more intense, something incredible unfolded in the two-and-a-half hours after Netherlands’ win over Nepal, which helped them secure their spot in the Super Sixes; something that could see Zimbabwe into the main event.

The cricket ground was full, the nearby rugby ground was full, and the party ran into overtime as a spirited home team took one – big – step closer to the World Cup.

First let us go back to the week that was.

Zimbabwe had opened their World Cup Qualifier by conceding 290 against Nepal and then chasing it down. They followed up by giving away 315 against Netherlands, and hunted that down too.

In the space of three days, they showed that anything was gettable in Harare, where the surface is flat and the outfield fast.

So against West Indies on Saturday, when they were asked to bat first and all they could muster was 268, hearts may have sunk, but something in their spirits still soared. There’s no other explanation for this showing at the Harare Sports Club.

At 11.30am local time, with Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl’s partnership building, the HSC was sold out, but people kept coming.

A fan park was set up on the rugby field adjacent to the stadium, complete with a big screen. By the afternoon, it was also well populated, and even when West Indies started their reply strongly, people still kept coming.

By then, West Indies already knew that Netherlands had advanced to the Super Sixes, and Zimbabwe, by virtue of having beaten Netherlands earlier this week, would, as per the tournament’s rules, carry those two points through to the next round.

But it was the two more which they could get against the West Indies that the supporters were interested in – not just because points matter but also because of who they could come against.

The West Indies team has long been an inspiration to many of the current Zimbabwe crop, and a favourite among their fans.

Ahead of their Test comeback in 2011, the Zimbabwe side had watched Fire in Babylon with then head coach Alan Butcher, hoping it would serve as motivation. He was right, and they won the Test.

In the years before and after that, Zimbabwe’s population have had reason to resonate with the ideas of black excellence shown by the West Indians. Thus, seeing the West Indies’ cricketing flag at Zimbabwean grounds, even if they’re not playing, is commonplace.

And since it’s rare that the two teams actually meet, seeing West Indies on home soil is a treat. So even when West Indies seemed to be slightly ahead at 139 for 4 in their chase of 269 at the halfway stage, there was no malice in the air.

The grass banks were teeming, the stands were stacked, the Centurion pub in the sports complex overflowed, and the famed Castle Corner was hushed as they contemplated their team’s fate.

Tendai Chatara had just been brought back on, and his four overs had cost 28 at that stage. He was preferred over Brad Evans, even though he had conceded 51 runs in five overs against Netherlands, and 59 in seven against Nepal, and his discipline seemed off even against West Indies.

Chatara’s fifth over went for six runs, his sixth for two, and his seventh for ten; and by the end of the 31st over, at 172 for 4, West Indies were less than 100 runs away from victory.

Slowly and softly, as though just to keep some noise going, some singing restarted. At the Centurion, a young child was lent a Zimbabwe flag by a woman, and told he would have to give it back, but only if Zimbabwe won.

The patrons began to prepare for the after-party — or drowning of sorrows – headlined by DJ Fafi, who had arrived in a Zimbabwe Cricket shirt but could have been contemplating a change of outfit.

Castle Corner bristled — restless — as Richard Ngarava was given the ball to start the 32nd over. His fourth delivery swung in, and struck Nicholas Pooran in front.

And even though it may have been slipping down leg the side, West Indies’ former captain was given out. “Now,” someone inside the pub said with the kind of authority that only too many drinks or too many dreams can provide, “Zimbabwe will win”.

But very few paid proper attention.

In the next over, when Blessing Muzarabani pinned Rovman Powell on the pads, the HSC exploded. Despite West Indies’ long batting line-up, Powell’s dismissal opened a door.

But it was only eight overs later that Chatara walked through it. Tasked with bowling the 41st over, confidence in him was not exactly high in the crowd after an expensive showing, but Zimbabwe’s coach Dave Houghton still believed.

“You have to give people more of a chance, especially those that are your best players,” he said at the post-match press conference.

“Everybody can go through a bad game or two. To drop them or axe them doesn’t do their confidence a world of good. He is still our best bowler.”

With what Chatara will admit was not his best ball, he got Jason Holder to reach for a wide delivery and edge it to wicketkeeper Joylord Gumbie, and in so doing, redeemed himself in a big way.

West Indies were reduced to 217 for 7, and the flag already had to be given back, DJ Fafi had to wait, and Castle Corner burst into their selection of war cries. They were not alone.

Around the crowd, the famed victory song Baya wa Baya rang out. It’s a hunting song, which describes a dagger going through the heart of the hunted, and is accompanied by an action mimicking a spear in mid-stab.

When 10 000 people belt this out all at once, it sounds like both a threat and a triumph, and it was there that the momentum turned. – Cricinfo.

You Might Also Like

Comments

Take our Survey

We value your opinion! Take a moment to complete our survey