Zimbabwe’s slim hopes of victory all but disappeared in the first over on day three as they lost captain Brendan Taylor for just six.
The remainder of the middle-order folded to Shane Shillingford, who ended with six for 49, and but for Craig Ervine, who was dropped twice, an innings defeat would have been the result. As it was, just two overs after an interestingly scheduled lunch interval, West Indies wrapped up a nine-wicket win.
Taylor had begun the day positively with a whip over mid-wicket off Shillingford for two, but the next ball was edged for four and he continued to look shaky until, with the sixth ball, he edged to short-leg to give Kieran Powell yet another catch.
Powell and Shillingford would also claim the wicket of Malcolm Waller in an almost identical manner, giving Powell his fifth catch in that position and underlining a technical flaw in Zimbabwe’s batsmen which cannot be easily rectified on this tour due to the puzzling decision not to bring batting coach Grant Flower to the Caribbean.
Shillingford continued to chip away at the middle-order throughout the morning, while Kemar Roach cleaned up night-watchman Ray Price. Shillingford bowled Regis Chakabva for six to complete his second Test five-wicket haul and then got one to bounce awkwardly at Graeme Cremer. His final figures of six for 49 were his best in his short Test career thus far.
Shannon Gabriel then came in to pinch a couple of cheap wickets. He had Kyle Jarvis flashing one through to Denesh Ramdin and then had a clueless Tendai Chatara bowled second ball to end with three for 10. Craig Ervine made the most of his pair of drops to end on 23 not out, again showing admirable resistance, and did just enough to help Zimbabwe avoid an embarrassing innings defeat.
Nonetheless, their second innings total of 107 was woeful and left West Indies needing just 12 in the fourth innings.
Due to one of cricket’s quirks, it took West Indies around an hour to collect those runs. They reached a slightly delayed lunch on nine for the loss of Kieran Powell, caught in the gully off Kyle Jarvis. Darren Bravo played out the third over as a maiden at which point umpires Ranmore Martinesz and Bruce Oxenford took the players off.
Chris Gayle then also played out the first over of the second session before completing the win with a couple off the last ball of the next.
The eventual margin of West Indies’ win perhaps hints at a one-sided match. However, that would be false assumption to make as at lunch yesterday Zimbabwe were more than holding their own. In the end it was a familiar tale of the underdog not being able to hold their own over the course of five days - or in this case two and a half - and the more fancied team winning the big moments.
In this Test the big moments were Denesh Ramdin and Darren Sammy’s seventh-wicket partnership yesterday and those three wickets in the tourists’ second innings just before stumps. Taylor will perhaps also reflect on his decision to give Cremer quite such a long spell against Sammy and Ramdin when they were going strong.
© Cricket World 2013
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