The last time the West Indies were at the Harare Sports Club, two years ago, their progress to what appeared inevitable victory was thwarted by the 18-year-old Zimbabwe schoolboy Hamilton Masakadza, whose 119 made him Test cricket's youngest century-maker.
Masakadza is now studying for a law degree at a university in South Africa, but the West Indies again found their advance towards a position of command on the opening day of the first Test yesterday arrested by another first-timer and his vice-captain.
Zimbabwe, batting first on a hard, true pitch, were tottering at 58 for 3 after an hour and a quarter when Stuart Matsikenyeri entered the contest. Bristling with self-confidence and wristy strokes, the diminutive right-hander guided the home side to 233 before he was sixth out to Fidel Edwards for 57 to the same careless edged drive that accounted for all but one of Zimbabwe's wickets.
His sixth-wicket stand of 78 with the vice-captain, Tatenda Taibu, was Zimbabwe's highest and turned another potentially miserable day for a team that have lost their last 11 Tests into a significant confidence boost as they reached 284 for 6.
Taibu survived a hostile spell from Edwards after tea to be unbeaten on 75 at the close, his highest Test score. The West Indies attack was handicapped by a sprained lower back that forced Jerome Taylor to leave the field during his 10th over, an injury that will prevent him bowling again in the innings and possibly the match.
Zimbabwe won toss; first day of five.
ZIMBABWE - First Innings
V Sibanda c Jacobs b Edwards 18
T R Gripper c Lara b Taylor 41
M A Vermeulen c Hinds b Edwards 8
S V Carlisle c Lara b Collymore 8
C B Wishart c Jacobs b Hinds 47
S Matsikenyeri c Jacobs b Edwards 57
T Taibu not out 75
H H Streak not out 16
Extras (b1 w1 nb12) 14
Total (for 6, 90 overs) 284
Fall: 1-26 2-35 3-58 4-112 5-154 6-233.
To bat: A M Blignaut, R W Price, N B Mahwire.
Bowling: Collymore 15-3-63-1; Edwards 17-2-73-3; Hinds 12-5-30-1; Drakes 18-3-46-0; Taylor 9.4-3-32-1; Gayle 10.2-6-8-0; Sarwan 6-0-24-0; Chanderpaul 2-1-7-0.
WEST INDIES: C H Gayle, W W Hinds, R R Sarwan, B C Lara, S Chanderpaul, D Ganga, R D Jacobs, V C Drakes, J E Taylor, F H Edwards, C D Collymore.
Umpires: B F Bowden (NZ) and S J A Taufel (Aus).Reuse content