Stuart Carlisle takes the honours of being the Top Performer on the fourth
day of the second Test match played at Harare Sports Club, Harare. Carlisle
played the innings of his life, carrying out his role to perfection to take
Zimbabwe to a memorable Test win against a strong Indian side. Carlisle's
determination and sense of purpose was there to be seen as he dealt with
India's bowlers with a straight broad bat.
It was a treat to watch him play Harbhajan Singh with such ease. Today he
seemed to possess the right technique to play every ball hurled at him. A
remarkable innings of character, which fetched him an unbeaten 62 runs off
137 balls with the help of half a dozen sweetly-timed hits to the fence.
Zimbabwe were set a modest target of 157 runs to make in the final innings
of the Test match. Chasing such low totals could always be tricky if the
team were to lose quick wickets. Stuart Carlisle walked into the middle
with Zimbabwe on 25/1 in the tenth over. Carlisle made sure that he stood
there till the win was achieved although he kept losing partners - as many
as five of them - on the road to victory.
Carlisle was a bit shaky to start with. Once he had his eyes well set in,
he started taking singles and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking. He
played Harbhajan off his hips, turning the ball behind square to pick easy
runs. Two cracking off drives that sped to the boundary in a hurry were the
highlight of his innings. The fast bowlers tried to unsettle him with
bouncers but Carlisle kept a cool head and made sure that he did not get
out. He brought up his fifty with a square cut to the point fence.
Zimbabwe lost the wicket of Heath Streak and were reduced to 119-5, still
38 runs away from the target. Given the fact that Andy Flower and Brighton
Watambwa were injured; Zimbabwe could have been blown apart. Along with the
explosive Arnoldus Blignaut he added 25 runs for the sixth wicket to take
the score to 144. Carlisle stood like the rock of Gibraltar almost through
the entire run chase to make the win look comfortable. He along with the
experienced Andy Flower knocked off the remaining 13 runs required for a
memorable Test match win that goes straight into the golden annals of
Zimbabwe cricket history.