Zimbabwe denied at the death by Jacobs

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The Independent Online

The West Indians' last pair, veteran wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs and their exciting new fast bowler Fidel Edwards, hung on grimly for 11 overs to deny Zimbabwe a rare and deserved triumph in the first Test here yesterday.

With a background of the chants of an expectant crowd of around 3,000, the left-handed Jacobs, saviour of several similar causes in his 51 previous Tests, and the 21-year-old right-handed Edwards, in his second, held on to avert what would have been West Indies' 26th defeat in their last 33 Tests away from the Caribbean.

Zimbabwe dominated the match throughout and were on course to convert 11 successive Test defeats into victory before Jacobs, who was unbeaten on 60 after two hours and 40 minutes of resistance, was joined by Edwards.

Heath Streak, named man of the match for his unbeaten 127 in the first innings, his effective swing bowling and his leadership, set West Indies an improbable, but not impossible, 373 for victory when he declared Zimbabwe's second innings at 200 for 7 three-quarters of an hour before lunch. The tourists were left with a draw as their only option when they slid to 37 for 3 after their left-handed openers, Wavell Hinds and Chris Gayle, and captain, Brian Lara, were dismissed in the space of 14 balls for one run.

Streak accounted for Hinds to a catch at a carefully positioned short square-leg and won a generous lbw decision from umpire Billy Bowden as Lara padded away his seventh ball.

Ray Price, whose quality left-arm spin earned him six wickets in the first innings, claimed Gayle to a reckless drive at a wide one, and he and occasional off-spinner Trevor Gripper harassed the batsmen on a pitch offering slow but appreciable turn.

Price bowled Daren Ganga for 16 and Ramnaresh Sarwan, who stayed an hour and a half for 39, perished when Tatenda Taibua punished a wild swipe off Gripper with a swift piece of stumping.

Sivnarine Chanderpaul and Jacobs held firm for an hour either side of tea, adding 68. But when Price removed Chanderpaul for 39, Andy Blignaut despatched Vasbert Drakes and Jerome Taylor in a hostile spell, and Price claimed Corey Collymore for his 10th wicket of the match, excited Zimbabweans on the field and off it celebrated as if the result was settled.

With their level-headed application, Jacobs and Edwards saw to it that it was not. The gathering gloom meant that Streak was not allowed to recall himself or Blignaut, and Price, tiring at the end of a spell of 38 overs, and Gripper could not seal the deal.