Tricky final day for Windies after Ballance spurs Zimbabwe
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (CMC):
A COMBINATION of their lethargy in the field, a defiant, undefeated fifth Test hundred from former England batsman Gary Ballance, and his demoralising hundred-run stand with Brandon Mavuta derailed West Indies and enabled Zimbabwe to make a bold declaration in the first Test yesterday, setting up an intriguing final day.
In an all-too-familiar turn of events, the Windies surrendered control when Ballance, not out on 137 in his first innings for the land of his birth, and Mavuta, with a career-best 56, set up the Zimbabweans for a declaration on 379 for nine, replying to the Caribbean side’s first-innings total of 447 for seven declared, on the third day at the Queen’s Sport Club.
West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite, not out on 11, and fellow opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul, not out on 10, batted through 13 overs with little trouble in almost an hour before the close and carried the visitors to 21 without loss in their second innings, for an overall lead of 89.
The Windies appeared in command when they captured four wickets – two to pacer Alzarri Joseph – in the morning period, and the hosts stumbled to 192 for seven at lunch.
But West Indies missed opportunities off successive balls from left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie to dismiss Mavuta, and he got together with Ballance to add 135 for the eighth wicket and spur a revival that enabled the Zimbabweans to avoid the follow-on and reset the contest.
Ballance became only the second cricketer after former Australia opener and South Africa captain Kepler Wessels to score Test hundreds for two countries, and the third to score a hundred on Test debut for Zimbabwe.
Joseph was the most successful Windies bowler with 3-75 fom 26 overs, fellow pacer Jason Holder grabbed 2-55 from 17 overs without being threatening, and Motie persevered to grab 2-110 from 33 overs.
“We were not feeling any pressure because we had a fairly big total on the board, and we set out to win the game,” Joseph said after play.
“Of course, we wanted to get them out for as little as possible, but it didn’t happen. We have one more day of cricket, and we’ll be looking to go again and try to win.”
He added: “The pitch is pretty flat, and the final day should be a good batting day, but we will be trying to win the game.
“We were a bit surprised by the declaration, but we understand it because Zimbabwe is also trying to make a game out of it.”