Zimbabwe positioned themselves on the brink of a deserving and convincing victory on the fourth day of the inaugural Test against the hapless West Indies yesterday.
They maintained the pressure they had exerted from the first over of the match, taking advantage of the obvious negativity that has enveloped every aspect of West Indies cricket for some time and the frailty of their batting that sorely missed Brian Lara, on his self-imposed sabbatical and watching from one of the hospitality boxes .
Their varied, disciplined bowling and sharp fielding reduced the West Indies to 147 for 9 when fading light ended play six overs prematurely, a lead of 98. They should not be hardpressed to record only their fourth victory in the 40 Tests since they were the last team to gain the status in 1992.
Only another of the miracles the two great West Indies fast bowlers, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, have performed over the years can deny them but that is unlikely on a pitch still in good condition.
Faced with a modest deficit of 49 when they began their second innings, the West Indies' shaky self-confidence was immediately undermined by Heath Streak, who dismissed the left-handers Adrian Griffith, for his second duck of the match, and Chris Gayle with the third and fourth balls of the morning without a run scored.
Only a fourth-wicket partnership of 78 between Shivnarine Chanderpaul and the new captain, Jimmy Adams, that occupied two and a half tortured hours either side of a lengthy lunchtime rain interruption delayed the eager Zimbabweans.
Once Adams drove a catch to cover off Henry Olonga to be out for 27 and Chanderpaul was the third of four Streak victims in the next over, lbw on the backfoot for 49, the resistance ended. Four wickets fell for four runs and only a clutch of extras helped extend the meagre West Indies total.
Zimbabwe's accurate bowlers maintained such unwavering control of length and line that the West Indies advanced at less than two runs an over. Two of the wickets were claimed by quality fielding.
Opener Sherwin Campbell was run out for 23 by Murray Goodwin's alert reactions from short-leg with 12 still needed to make Zimbabwe bat again. Left with only the last two men as partners, the first innings topscorer, Wavell Hinds, was beaten by Henry Olonga's screaming return to keeper from fine-leg.
Zimbabwe won toss; fourth day WEST INDIES - First innings 187 (H H Streak 4-45). ZIMBABWE - First innings (Friday night: 109 for 3)
N C Johnson lbw b Ambrose 0 G W Flower c Campbell b Walsh 0 T R Gripper c Gayle b Ambrose 41 M W Goodwin c Gayle b Walsh 20 *Ã¿A Flower not out 113 A D R Campbell c Jacobs b Ambrose 0 S V Carlisle b Ambrose 17 H H Streak c Campbell b Gayle 20 B A Murphy lbw b Rose 1 H K Olonga b Gayle 2 M Mbangwa b Gayle 0 Extras (b2 lb6 w1 nb13) 22 Total (107 overs) 236
Fall: 1-0 2-0 3-27 4-144 5-144 6-164 7-232 8-233 9-236. Bowling: Ambrose 25-13-42-4 (5nb); Walsh 28-9-49-2 (3nb); Rose 19-6-41-1 (5nb); King 20-2-71-0 (1w); Gayle 15-2-25-3.
WEST INDIES - Second innings
A F G Griffith lbw b Streak 0 S L Campbell run out (Goodwin) 23 C H Gayle b Streak 0 S Chanderpaul lbw b Streak 49 *J C Adams c Murphy b Olonga 27 W W Hinds run out 9 R D Jacobs lbw b Olonga 0 C E L Ambrose c Johnson b Murphy 1 F A Rose c A Flower b Streak 9 R D King not out 1 C A Walsh not out 0 Extras (b11 lb6 w3 nb8) 28 Total (for 9, 74 overs) 147
Fall: 1-0 2-0 3-37 4-115 5-115 6-118 7-119 8-142 9-146. Bowling: Streak 16-7-27-4; Olonga 13-3-28-2 (nb4); Mbangwa 15-10-15-0; Murphy 15-3-23-1 (nbl); Johnson 4-0-18-0 (nb3, w3) Gripper 2-0-6-0; G Flower 9-4-13-0.
Umpires: S Bucknor (WI), G Sharp (Eng).
Third umpire: C Cumberbatch (Trinidad).
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).Reuse content