The West Indies batting finally put Zimbabwe’s attack to the sword on the second day in Dominica. They did lose Marlon Samuels to the first ball of the day, but that was as good as it got. Chris Gayle completed his century before Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Denesh Ramdin combined for a mammoth fifth-wicket stand of 173.
A few late wickets did fall, with Prosper Utseya taking two in two balls but, by that stage, the damage had been done and West Indies closed on 381 for eight - a lead of 206 runs.
Zimbabwe didn’t have to wait long to produce the ball of the day in the morning. Tendai Chatara, who had predominantly been moving the ball into the right-hander got a ball to swing away alarmingly at Marlon Samuels, pitching on leg and knocking over off-stump. However, Gayle and Chanderpaul, and then Ramdin and Chanderpaul, took over and the remainder of the day was one of quiet, largely risk-free, accumulation.
Even Gayle was fairly subdued for a while. He did explode into life suddenly when in the eighties and reached his 15th Test century in a flurry of sixes. Soon after he was caught spectacularly at long-on by Kyle Jarvis off Prosper Utseya. Going for another one of his lofted straight drives, Utseya got the ball to spin just enough to take the outer half of the bat. Jarvis took the catch over his right shoulder with a full length dive.
It looked for a long time as if the wickets resulting from those two moments of brilliance might be the tourists’ only successes of the day. Chanderpaul and Ramdin survived until lunch and then until tea. In all, their partnership was worth 173 and came off 56.3 overs - a scoring rate of just over three an over. That the runs didn’t come faster was due at least partly to the fairly disciplined manner in which Zimbabwe bowled. Chatara bowled a long economical spell, while Graeme Cremer bounced back from his pasting in Barbados, where he conceded almost a run a ball, by going for just three an over here.
Chanderpaul was his typical crab-like self and combined his trademark leg-side nudges with the occasional almost handsome drive through cover. Ramdin was slightly more fluent and hit the only six of their epic partnership, but he was also the man that brought it to an end. Cremer was finally rewarded for his improvement by trapping him on the back foot plumb LBW.
A little earlier, Chanderpaul had completed yet another Test century and now only needs one against Sri Lanka to complete the full set against all Test playing nations. However, he became the third wicket to fall in less than half an hour - Darren Sammy came and went cheaply, caught at long-on off Cremer - when he gave Sean Williams a low catch at cover. The very next ball, Kemar Roach played down the wrong line to Utseya and suddenly the little off-spinner was on a hat-trick.
The West Indies were now in danger of getting bowled out before the day was done, but Tino Best survived the hat-trick ball and the other 11 that he faced and partnered Shane Shillingford through until the close.
All attention will now focus on Zimbabwe’s batting tomorrow. West Indies will presumably either declare or be bowled out in the morning at which point Zimbabwe will commence their second innings knowing that they must better their first innings effort just to make the home side bat again. If they fail, then the Test will end inside three days once again and Zimbabwe’s tour will end at six defeats from six matches. West Indies would have six successive Test wins following their triumphs against New Zealand and Bangladesh.
© Cricket World 2013
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