Tea West Indies 219 and 244 for 6 (Chase 38*, Jarvis 2-42, Williams 2-54) lead Zimbabwe 159 by 304 runs
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West Indies continued their progress on the third day at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, extending the lead over Zimbabwe to 304 at tea. Kraigg Brathwaite soaked up the early pressure to score 86, while Kyle and Shai Hope’s forties were a study of composed batting and West Indies reached the interval at 244 for 6.
The patience exhibited by Brathwaite and the Hope brothers stood in stark contrast to Zimbabwe’s jittery effort yesterday, and allowed them to deny the hosts quick wickets despite the reverse swing, spin and inconsistent bounce available for the bowlers. Brathwaite was also aided by Zimbabwe’s lapses in the field: he was dropped twice in consecutive overs off Graeme Cremer’s bowling before lunch.
It was apparent first thing this morning that batting would not be easy. Sean Williams opened the bowling from the Airport End and beat the outside edge of Brathwaite’s bat more than once in his first spell. It was the bottom edge that Kyle Jarvis beat from the City End, his fourth delivery eliciting a clear puff of dust as it hit the deck and scooted through Kyle Hope’s defences, but wide of off stump, at shin height.
Indeed, there were multiple half-chances, almosts and what-ifs in the first hour as Zimbabwe applied considerable pressure in trying conditions. Kyle Hope and Brathwaite set themselves to soak it up, but Jarvis’ wicket-to-wicket line and variations of swing and seam eventually proved too much for the elder Hope. An indipper reversed in to his pads to strike him right in front, seven runs short of what would have been a maiden half-century.
West Indies were 107 for 2 and one Hope replaced another at the crease. Shai’s Hope’s dead-bat defence held Zimbabwe at bay as Brathwaite brought up a solid fifty, from 137 deliveries. Dispatching the bad balls and surviving the good ones, Shai Hope accumulated runs in typical style as Brathwaite enjoyed the second chances offered by Zimbabwe’s fielders. Eliciting considerable turn and bounce from the Airport End, Cremer found Brathwaite’s edge twice in two overs, but wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva and Hamilton Masakadza spilled the opportunities and West Indies steadily batted Zimbabwe further out of the match.
Brathwaite had been comfortable shuffling right across his stumps for much of the morning, making the majority of his runs on the leg side off both spin and pace. The tactic eventually got him in trouble, however, and Zimbabwe eventually ended the third-wicket partnership on 67 when Sikandar Raza got one to spin in sharply from outside off stump, rapping Brathwaite in front of his stumps.
Zimbabwe took the new ball shortly after, and once again both Jarvis and Chris Mpofu extracted inconsistent bounce from a length. Jarvis removed Shai Hope for 44 with a delivery that skidded and nipped back in, but Roston Chase continued picking the right ball to hit, exemplified by a massive six over long-off against Cremer.
At the other end, Zimbabwe continued to chip away. Mirroring his dismissal in the first innings, Jermaine Blackwood was well stumped by Regis Chakabva, the ‘keeper’s lightning hands removing the bails with Blackwood’s back foot on the line – the fourth time he has been stumped in his last seven innings. Shane Dowrich took the lead past 300 with a flowing cover drive, before he, too, fell to spin, edging Williams to Masakadza at slip. This time the fielder held on, and with four wickets between lunch and tea the session belonged to Zimbabwe. The match, however, is still weighted in West Indies’ favour.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo