Vermeulen keeps Zimbabwe in the hunt

West Indies 481 and 13-0 Zimbabwe 377
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The Independent Online

Despite a typically spirited Zimbabwe resistance, the loss of their fastest bowler, Fidel Edwards, with an ankle injury for all but four overs and a few unlucky umpiring decisions, the West Indies maintained the edge on the third day of the second Test here yesterday.

A patient maiden century by the 24-year-old Mark Vermeulen that occupied seven and a quarter hours, his sixth-wicket partnership of 78 with the wicketkeeper, Tatenda Taibu, and 75 from the last two wickets ensured a Zimbabwe total of 377 that limited the West Indies' lead to 104. The captain, Heath Streak, then gained a generous lbw decision from the umpire, Rudi Koertzen, against Chris Gayle to the first ball of the West Indies second innings before encircling thunderstorms finally arrived to end play with 18 of the available 21 overs left.

The West Indies, desperate to compensate for their dismal performance in the drawn first Test, were 13 for 1 with a lead of 117 to carry into the fourth day on a slow but wearing pitch. Their goal would be to build it up to at least 350 quick enough for their bowlers to have adequate time to press for a victory that would retain their position one above Zimbabwe on the International Cricket Council's Test rankings. Only Bangladesh are below them.

Vermeulen, 60 at the start of play with Zimbabwe 173 for 3 responding to the West Indies' 481, eeked out three runs in the first hour as Zimbabwe faltered in the face of Corey Collymore's fast-medium bowling that earned figures of 4 for 70. Collymore removed Vermeulen's overnight partner, Craig Wishart, for 96 and then Stuart Matsikenyeri within the first 45 minutes. Only a no-ball saved Vermeulen when the middle stump was uprooted by a yorker after he had added one run.

Off his first ball, Taibu got the better of Collymore's authentic lbw claim to hold firm for an hour and 10 minutes with Vermeulen. He edged the first ball after lunch to second slip as Collymore returned for a second spell. When Streak was lbw to Merv Dillon and Vermeulen's marathon ended with a deflection from his pad on to leg stump from the off-spinner Omari Banks, the West Indies led by 192. But Nos 9, 10 and 11, Andy Blignaut, Ray Price and Blessing Mahwire, substantially reduced it with bold batting.

Zimbabwe v West Indies

(Bulawayo, Zim; third day of five)

West Indies won toss

West Indies - First Innings 481 (B C Lara 191, W W Hinds 81, R R Sarwan 65; R W Price 5-199)

Zimbabwe - First Innings

V Sibanda c and b Edwards 2

T R Gripper b Dillon 1

M A Vermeulen b Banks 118

S V Carlisle b Edwards 11

C B Wishart lbw b Collymore 96

S Matsikenyeri b Collymore 8

ÝT Taibu c Gayle b Collymore 27

*H H Streak lbw b Dillon 3

A M Blignaut lbw b Collymore 31

R W Price c Ganga b Banks 35

N B Mahwire not out 8

Extras (b17 lb4 w1 nb15) 37

Total (133.1 overs) 377

Fall: 1-5 2-10 3-31 4-185 5-201 6-279 7-289 8-302 9-336.

Bowling: Hinds 6-2-18-0, Edwards 15-3-48-2, Dillon 34-13-57-2, Collymore 24-5-70-4, Banks 41.1-13-106-2, Gayle 6-1-23-0, Sarwan 7-0-34-0.

West Indies - Second Innings

C H Gayle lbw b Streak 0

W W Hinds not out 5

D Ganga not out 8

Extras 0

Total (1 wkt, 3 overs) 13

Fall: 1-0.

To bat: R R Sarwan, *B C Lara, S Chanderpaul, ÝR D Jacobs, O A C Banks, M Dillon, C D Collymore, F H Edwards.

Bowling: Streak 2-1-4-1, Blignaut 1-0-9-0.

Umpires: R E Koertzen (SA) and S J A Taufel (Aus).