Lunch West Indies 188 for 4 (Shai Hope 23* Chase 16*, Raza 2-30, Mpofu 1-20) trail Zimbabwe 326 by 138 runs
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Three wickets on the third morning helped Zimbabwe reassert themselves in the field, in second Test in Bulawayo. Sikandar Raza made excellent use of the old ball, nipping out nightwatchman Devendra Bishoo and Kyle Hope in quick succession, while Chris Mpofu struck with the new ball to deny Kieran Powell a century. Shai Hope and Roston Chase survived a probing few minutes before lunch, and West Indies went to the interval at 188 for 4, still 138 runs adrift of Zimbabwe’s effort in the first dig.
While Raza was exemplary with his offspin, and Mpofu, well supported by a sparse but vocal home crowd, brought renewed energy to proceedings, Graeme Cremer struggled for rhythm in the first session. He repeatedly dragged the ball short, allowing Powell multiple scoring opportunities off the back foot, but both he and Tendai Chisoro also created early chances.
Bishoo and Powell, eager to get a move on after yesterday’s go-slow, sparred at turning deliveries outside off to keep the slip and wicketkeeper interested. But the edges, when they did come, flew between fielders or dropped in front of them. Powell eased past fifty, from 133 deliveries, and slowly began to assert himself.
Cremer toggled fielders around slip, leg slip, short leg and close in at midwicket or in the covers and when a chance eventually did come, it went to Brendan Taylor at midwicket, via the top edge of a Bishoo slog-sweep. Reverse cupping his hands, Taylor backpeddled and settled under the swirling chance, but the ball popped out of his hands.
It was left to Raza to make the breakthrough all on his own, drawing a false shot from Bishoo and holding on to a regulation caught-and-bowled chance. Offering generous flight, Raza struck again soon after when an offbreak spat off a length and kept a little low to peg Kyle Hope in front of middle stump. A desperate review couldn’t save him, and West Indies went to the first drinks break at 135 for 3.
With Powell still at the crease the advantage remained with West Indies, and he was granted another life – having already been dropped on 11 yesterday – when he drove a full delivery straight back at Cremer on 85. The legspinner couldn’t quite wrap his hands around the stinging chance, and vented his frustration with a wild return in the same over. The throw went to Hamilton Masakadza at slip, and though he stopped the overthrows he also seemed to hurt his hand, calling Taylor into the slip position and leaving the field to be replaced by substitute fielder Chamu Chibhabha.
Zimbabwe’s frustration was beginning to show, and Powell seemed assured of a fourth Test hundred. But the new ball, taken half an hour before lunch, changed the complexion of the session. Chris Mpofu, steaming in from the City End, got the hard new ball to leap alarmingly at Powell, who could only fend to Craig Ervine in the gully to be caught 10 short of his ton.
The wicket put the pep back in Zimbabwe’s step, and there were two slips and a short leg for new batsman Roston Chase when he faced up to Chisoro. If there were any nerves for Chase, he didn’t show it, striking a towering straight six in the last over before lunch.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town
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