Zimbabwe 114 for 3 (Kaia 59*, Brathwaite 1-5, Motie 1-25) Trail West Indies 447 (Chanderpal 207*, Brathwaite 182, Mawta 5-140) by 333 runs on 6 Dec
The Chandrapal name looms large in West Indies cricket history, and Taginerayan Chandrapal carried on the legacy by becoming only the tenth player from the region to convert his maiden Test century into a double ton. The opener was a study in concentration during his unbeaten 207 off 467 balls, which helped the visitors post 447 for 6 on the third day of the first Test against Zimbabwe.
Craig Brathwaite and Chandrapal combined for a number of records as Bulawayo saw a full day’s play in sunshine after two rain-hit days. In reply, Masoom Kaya led the way with an unbeaten fifty on debut and Zimbabwe posted 114 for 3, still behind the West Indies by 333 runs.
With 99 overs lost to rain and the West Indies managing just 221 in 89 overs on the first two days, they needed to up the rate to force a result, and Brathwaite accepted the challenge. He was dynamic from the get-go and produced a number of shots that belied his naturally defensive style of play.
He hit Richard Ngarwa for three consecutive fours in the third over of the day and Victor Nyachi for two more. Brathwaite hit six fours off his first 16 balls of the day, and soon became his third 150-plus score in Test cricket. He was more agricultural in his shot creation, often moving into his crease and finding space on the onside, an approach probably influenced by Zimbabwe’s seven-two offside heavy field.
Chandrapal was more measured in his approach and struck a boundary in only the 21st over of the day. But he rotated the strike at every possible opportunity.
Zimbabwe also had their moments in the extended first session. There were two close run-out appeals against Chandrapal, while debutant wicketkeeper Tafadzwa Tsiga missed a stumping opportunity when Brathwaite was on 159. Brathwaite at 167.
As a result, it didn’t take long for the pair to surpass the 33-year-old record held by Gordon Greenage and Desmond Haynes for the most opening stands in Tests for the West Indies. They also became the first opening duo to bat more than 100 overs in a Test innings since Marvin Attapto and Santh Jayasuriya against Pakistan 23 years ago.
Zimbabwe finally struck through Wellington Masakadza, who trapped Brathwaite for 182, ending a massive stand of 336 – the ninth-highest opening partnership in Tests. Soon after, Chandrapal reached 150, the first time that both West Indies openers had scored more than 150 runs in the same Test innings.
Kyle Mears hit two sixes before falling to Brendan Mawta, as the West Indies reached lunch at 374 for 2 in the first session, 153 in 36 overs.
Chandrapal got a life when he was dropped on the first ball after the break, and Tsiga again failed to latch on. However, Mauta continued to keep the ball in good areas and was immediately rewarded with the wickets of Ramon Reffer and Jermaine Blackwood.
Chandrapal went after Masakadza, hitting a four and a six in an over to pace the 180s even as Mawta continued to pick up wickets at the other end. The leg-spinner bowled Ruston Chase for 7 before removing Jason Holder to take his first five-wicket haul.
It took some time for Chandrapal to reach his double ton after that, but he got there in style by hitting Masakadza for a six over mid-off. He also outplayed his father Tanurwa Makuni, both on Test debut, then survived ten overs before tea to give his side a steady start.
After the sun set on the Bulawayo surface, batting became easier on the third evening, and the openers missed it. Kaya was the attacker, often cutting and pulling widely, while Makoni was bound on the front foot. Opposition captain Brathwaite rang in the changes, but there was little on offer for the bowlers as the pair put on a 50-run stand in 22 overs.
It was Alzari Joseph who finally struck for the West Indies, taking an excellent catch at first slip with Mears on Makoni’s blade. New batsman Chamu Chabhabha hit a boundary off his second ball, but Gadkesh Moti soon dismissed him for 9 runs.
Kaia continued to play his strokes, and completed his maiden Test fifty with a hard sweep over midwicket by Moti. Just when Zimbabwe had hoped to go to stumps two down, Brathwaite brought himself forward and dismissed opposite number Craig Irwin in what proved to be the last ball of the day.