Zimbabwe openers start positively in 434 chase

Lunch Zimbabwe 76 for 0 (Masakadza 40*, Mire 34*) and 159 need 358 to win v West Indies 373 (Chase 95, Cremer 4-114) and 219
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Regis Chakabva checks out Roston Chase’s punch © Getty Images

Openers Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire ensured that Zimbabwe’s monumental task of trying to save this Test match got off to a steady start on the fourth morning at Queens Sports Club. Asked to survive six sessions or score 434 to avoid defeat after Roston Chase fell for 95 and West Indies were bowled out for 373 this morning, the pair put on 76 in 22 overs before lunch, responding to a testing first spell from legspinner Devendra Bishoo with positive intent despite the turn and bounce on offer.

Bishoo, whose 5 for 79 in the first innings set the base for West Indies’ lead, seemed the bowler most likely to break through as there was precious little movement for the seamers this morning.

There was only one slip in position as early as the seventh over, and when Jason Holder brought himself on as first change, there were no slips at all. Catchers were instead placed in front of the wicket, between short extra cover and straight mid on, but none were needed as Masakadza once again profited from the pull shot, while Mire mixed crunching hits into the leg side with dabs and steers through gully.

Bishoo bowled from the Airport End, the end from which he did so much damage in the first innings, in the 10th over and immediately ragged a legbreak past Mire’s outside edge. With the ball raising puffs of dust from the dry pitch and turning square, Bishoo beat both batsmen but couldn’t break through.

The batsmen worked to upset his length with the sweep, both cracking boundaries with the shot. Masakadza then leaned back to pull a couple of boundaries when Bishoo dropped short. Such positive intent was the hallmark of an opening stand that is already the longest of the match so far. The batsmen never offered more than the odd half-chance in the session.

Zimbabwe expected to be given five sessions to survive in the field, but their spinners ensured that would be closer to six with a swift dissolution to West Indies’ innings. Captain Graeme Cremer clean bowled Kemar Roach with a surprise googly with the very first ball of the day, putting himself on a hat-trick for the second time in the match. Shannon Gabriel survived the hat-trick ball, but Chase fell short of what would have been a fourth Test hundred. On 95, and facing the last ball of a Sean Williams over, Chase went for a huge sweep only to have his leg stump disturbed, ending West Indies’ innings on 373.

That set Zimbabwe an improbable 434 to win, or the better part of six sessions to survive. With an opening stand full of bristling intent, Masakadza and Mire ensured that there remained a slim chance for two outright results.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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