Rain halts Brathwaite, Chanderpaul first-day grind
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (CMC):
OPENERS KRAIGG Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul adopted a painstaking approach to batting and enabled West Indies to make a stable start in the first Test against hosts Zimbabwe yesterday, before adverse weather ended play early.
Windies captain Brathwaite was not out on 55 and left-hander Chanderpaul, playing his third Test, was not out on the same score, and the Caribbean side were 112 without loss in their first innings, with only 51 overs possible before rain stopped play about half-hour before the scheduled tea break on the first day.
The players never got a chance to return to the field with the weather wiping out the entire third and final session of play.
There were several occasions when the grounds staff removed the covers and a resumption seemed imminent before umpires Langston Rusere and Paul Reiffel decided to abandon play about half-hour before the scheduled close.
Play will start on Sunday, half-hour earlier than scheduled, to make up for the time lost.
Brathwaite and Chanderpaul hardly placed a foot wrong in giving West Indies a firm foundation after the visitors decided to bat on the easy-paced Queen’s Sports Club pitch.
“I think the pitch looked good and I didn’t see much moisture in it,” Brathwaite said about the decision to bat.
“I think it’s important for us to get a big first-innings total, and that’s pretty much it. I think the pitch was playing good.
“With rain around, we have to see how the pitch plays, so starting over [on Sunday] will be crucial. [Saturday] is history. It is gone. It’s important for me and Tage to go and start fresh [on Sunday] and continue to build the foundation for the team to get a big first-innings total.”
Brathwaite said he enjoyed batting with the younger Chanderpaul and hailed the alliance they have formed so far at the top of the order over the three Tests.
“Tage is quite special,” he said.
“I have played against him several times when he played for Guyana (Harpy Eagles) against Barbados (Pride).
“It’s great to see the fight that a young guy can come into the Test team and show – and, even for me, he is an example for me to follow and I will just continue urging him to be himself. And it’s truly an honour to bat with him, and I am confident he will do superb things for West Indies.”
They became only the 10th Windies opening pair to feature in two century partnerships in Tests after they forged a new alliance on the Tour of Australia before Christmas last year – and it is the third time they have shared 50-plus in five innings.
Though the durability of the West Indies opening pair in this innings will not be questioned, their slow accumulation of runs in an era when scoring rates in Tests have increased significantly meant the Zimbabweans felt little pressure.
Brathwaite needed 116 balls to reach his 50 when he drove pacer Victor Nyauchi through mid-off for three in the final over before the refreshments break in the second session of play.
Chanderpaul, son of former Guyana and Windies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul, took 165 balls to arrive at the landmark with a confident pull through mid-wicket off left-arm pacer Richard Ngarava, for the seventh of his eight boundaries in the penultimate over before the rain stoppage.
There were few strokes of genuine attraction from the West Indies opening pair, but Chanderpaul smacked a nice back-foot cover drive off pacer Bradley Evans for four to break the shackles in the first over after the Caribbean side resumed from 54 without loss at lunch.
It was a strong response after he had come close to being dismissed off the previous delivery when he essayed an ill-advised hook at a short ball from Evans, and he was fortunate that leaping wicketkeeper Tafadzwa Tsiga was not able to get a mitt to the ball.
Chanderpaul, on 37, also turned a delivery from leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta dangerously close to the forward short leg fielder.
Perhaps, he sensed the weather was going to change, and, with the half-century mark beckoning, he came out of his cocoon with successive boundaries in Mavuta’s fifth over, and another pair in Nagarava’s ninth over, to race to a career-best score.
Brathwaite also appeared to enjoy a chunk of good fortune when he played back and across to a delivery from Mavuta in the final over before the rain arrived, and he was struck in front, but umpire Reiffel turned down the lbw appeal of the hosts.
TV replays were inconclusive, and the ball tracking technology typically in operation to review the decisions of umpires in such circumstances, is not in use for this series.
West Indies, who have not lost any of their previous 10 Tests against Zimbabwe, omitted Nkrumah Bonner, Devon Thomas, Shannon Gabriel, and Jomel Warrican from their final 11.
The second Test in the series starts on Sunday, February 12.