West Indies take command of rain-hit Test in Zimbabwe

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By Associated Press

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite and fellow opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul have both scored half-centuries as the West Indies reached 0-112 before rain washed out play after lunch on day one of the first Test against Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s bowlers lacked penetration on a flat pitch at the Queens Sports Club on Saturday but were able to keep the Windies batsmen in check with calm and composed bowling.

The West Indies openers, who both finished the day undefeated on 55, looked comfortable at the crease and pounced on the bad ball when the Zimbabwe bowlers fluffed their lines.

“The pitch looked good for batting, but obviously we knew rain would be a factor,” Brathwaite said.

“Today is history, today is gone, we have to come back tomorrow and start setting the foundation again.”

Zimbabwe fielded five debutants, including former England batter Gary Ballance, who completed his international switch during the African team’s white-ball series with Ireland in January.

“We kept the pressure on, but credit to the West Indies, I thought they batted nicely,” said Steve Kirby, Zimbabwe’s bowling coach. “It was a very good surface for test cricket. On a different day, we could have had two, three wickets. It was just a good day of old-fashioned test cricket.”

Zimbabwe are missing frontline bowler Blessing Muzarabani though long-term injury as well as in-form batting all-rounders Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl, who are playing Twenty20 franchise cricket in Dubai and Bangladesh, respectively.

“We are always going to lose players to white-ball cricket,” Kirby said. “But there is still a huge appetite for test cricket. Test cricket is a privilege. It’s a very emotional time for them (the debutants) and they will remember it for the rest of their lives.”

Both games of the two-match series will be in Bulawayo.

Ballance, returning to his country of birth, had represented England in 24 tests most recently in 2017.

The West Indies lost 2-0 in Australia in their last series in December and interim coach Andre Coley is in charge of the team for the first time.