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Zimbabwe wobble as Bishoo leads Windies fightback

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So far it has been a case of living by the sword, dying by the sword in this first Test between Zimbabwe and the Windies at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. After Zimbabwe had deployed spin bowling so effectively to bundle out the Caribbean side for 219 on the first day – with captain Graeme Cremer leading the charge with a four-wicket haul – the visitors simply returned the favour on Sunday, skittling the home side for 159 just before tea.

Legspinner Devendra Bishoo was the chief tormentor, claiming five wickets, while there were two each for the captain Jason Holder and Kemar Roach.

Not quite the day the home side had anticipated, having closed day one with a brisk 19 for no loss on the board and with the returning Brendan Taylor expected to shore up Zimbabwe’s innings.

Play resumed with Hamilton Masakadza, who at stumps had not scored from the 12 balls he had faced, pulling Kemar Roach’s second delivery past midwicket for a boundary. After adding 25 runs to their overnight total, Zimbabwe were dealt a blow when Solomon Mire slogged a catch, off a slower ball from Roach, to Kraigg Braithwaite at deep midwicket.

Mire’s debut innings of 27 included four boundaries and one maximum off 36 deliveries.

Twelve overs into the day, the Windies introduced spin for the first time and Masakadza greeted Bishoo by carting him over long-on for a maximum.

Zimbabwe appeared on course to overhauling the Windies total, with Masakadza and Craig Ervine adding 47 runs for the second wicket before Bishoo claimed his first scalp.

Masakadza went forward for the defence but a feather-light edge off his bat brought the best out of the wicketkeeper, Shane Dowrich, who held on to a brilliant catch to end the veteran batsman’s innings for 42. His knock came off 78 balls and included four boundaries and a single six, with his dismissal leaving Zimbabwe on 91 for two, 128 runs behind the Windies.

That brought in Taylor, playing his first Test for Zimbabwe in almost three years after his stint in English county cricket.

His long-awaited return however lasted only seven deliveries, as he was caught by Jermaine Blackwood at first slip while trying to reverse-sweep Bishoo.

Taylor managed only a single run and Zimbabwe were now down to 93 for three. His departure unfortunately signalled the start of a collapse as the home side went on to lose the rest of their wickets for 66 runs.

Sean Williams nicked Roach to the keeper to depart for seven, off 25 balls, reducing Zimbabwe to 110 for four.

Next to go was Sikandar Raza, who skyed a catch to Shannon Gabriel while trying to hit Bishoo over extra cover – he scored six off 25 balls; 123 for five.

With Ervine still in, Zimbabwe still had hope their innings could be rescued but then Bishoo continued to run riot. Trying to sweep the legspinner, Ervine completely missed and was trapped plumb lbw to depart for 39, with five fours, off 89 balls; 133 for six.

Malcolm Waller lasted 27 balls which yielded 11 runs before Holder sent his middle stump for a jog; 139 for seven.

Bishoo completed his five-wicket haul when he had Regis Chakabva, who was on 12 including a six, caught by Roston Chase at backward point off the 21st delivery he faced.

Zimbabwe were now down to 147 for eight and, before a run could be added to the total, Cremer dragged Holder’s delivery back onto his stumps to depart without scoring off 11 balls.

There was a nice cameo performance at the tail-end from Chris Mpofu who got the crowd on their feet and chanting his name as he scored 10 runs off 26 deliveries before Gabriel had him outside-edging to Dowrich to end Zimbabwe’s innings for 159.

Tea was immediately taken, with the Windies taking a lead of 60.

Brathwaite and Kieran Powell came out to get the tourists’ second innings underway and contributed 25 runs before Cremer broke the opening stand for his third wicket in five balls.

Powell was the victim, his stump getting knocked out after he had scored 17, including one four and one six, off 34 balls.

At stumps, the Windies were on 81 for one and 148 runs ahead, with Brathwaite (38*) and Kyle Hope (32*) weathering all that Zimbabwe threw at them to see out the day unbeaten.


West Indies – 219 and 88-1 in 33 overs (Kraigg Brathwaite 38*, Kyle Hope 32*; Graeme Cremer 1/36)

Zimbabwe – 159 all out in 61.3 overs (Hamilton Masakadza 42, Craig Ervine 39, Solomon Mire 27; Devendra Bishoo 5/79, Kemar Roach 2/23, Jason Holder 2/25)