Zimbabwe hold off late West Indies charge to draw first test

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By Reuters

BULAWAYO: Zimbabwe saw off a late bid by West Indies to force an unlikely result on the last day’s play as they finished on 134 for six in their second innings of the drawn first test on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe were set 272 to win with 49 overs left on the final afternoon, but never seriously chased their target and were comfortably placed for the draw on 83-2 in the 23rd over before spin bowlers Gudakesh Motie (4-50) and Roston Chase (2-9) sent late flutters through the home dressing-room.

Wicketkeeper Tafadzwa Tsiga’s 83-ball score of 23 not out helped to frustrate the touring side as the shadows lengthened in the late afternoon.

“After losing a whole day, I think it was a commendable effort from us to get close to a victory, so well done to us,” West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite said at the post-match presentation.

“But also Zimbabwe batted very well. I think overall, I’m pleased with the team effort.”

A draw had seemed the most likely result when rain hampered the start of the test with only 89 overs possible on the first two days after West Indies had opted to bat.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul set a new West Indies record of 336 runs for an opening test partnership on day three before declaring on 447-6.

Zimbabwe replied with 379-9, including an unbeaten 137 on debut from former England left-hander Gary Ballance, before they declared late on day four.

The visitors were 21-0 overnight and on the last day sought to score quickly, declaring on 203-5 after lunch with Raymon Reifer posting 58 and Jermaine Blackwood 57.

Rain briefly delayed Zimbabwe’s second innings before Motie dismissed four of the top five batsmen with his career-best figures in his second test.

“It felt like forever!,” Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine said of the final few overs. “I thought there was a lot of fight in the boys over the whole five days. I have told the guys to go out and express themselves and they have done that very well.”

The second and final test, also at the Queens Sports Club in Zimbabwe’s second city, starts on Sunday.