BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, CMC – Roston Chase was within touching distance of a fourth Test hundred as West Indies carved out a lead in excess of 400 runs to increase their stranglehold on the opening Test against Zimbabwe, on the third day at Queens Sports Club here yesterday.
The right-hander was unbeaten on 91 at the close, leading a resilient batting display from the Caribbean side that saw them to 369 for eight – a lead of already 429 runs heading into today’s penultimate day.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite buttressed the Windies effort by fashioning his 14th Test half-century with a battling 86 while the classy Shai Hope and tail-ender Devendra Bishoo both scored 44 and Kyle Hope, 43.
Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer once again led the attack with three for 111 while seamer Kyle Jarvis (2-66) and Sean Williams (2-90) both ended with two wickets apiece.
Resuming the day on 88 for one, West Indies lost Kyle Hope inside the first hour when he played across a full length delivery from Jarvis and perished lbw, after adding just 11 to his overnight score.
Brathwaite and Shai Hope then combined in a 67-run third wicket stand which pushed the Windies to 155 for two at lunch, and kept Zimbabwe at bay for a nearly an hour afterwards.
On 38 at the start, Brathwaite raised his fifty on the stroke of the hour with a couple to mid-wicket off Williams and then survived a chance on 60 to Hamilton Masakadza at slip off Cremer, to be unbeaten on 70 at lunch, partnered by Shai Hope on 24.
He was was eyeing three figures when he played around one from off-spinner Sikander Raza and was lbw just before the next drinks break at 174 for three, after facing 229 deliveries and striking four fours and a six.
Shai Hope, who faced 106 balls and counted five fours, put on a further 37 for the fourth wicket with Chase but the introduction of the second new ball put an end to the threatening stand, when Hope was hit in front by Jarvis.
His demise triggered a slide that saw three wickets tumble for 33 runs, to leave West Indies on 244 for six at the tea interval.
Jermaine Blackwood was drawn from his crease and stumped for the second time in the match, this time off Williams for three, while wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich fell to the final delivery before the break, caught by Masakadza at slip for 12 off Williams.
Unbeaten on 38 at tea, Chase took control of the innings to ensure West Indies dominated the final session, first posting 33 for the seventh wicket with captain Jason Holder (24) and then an invaluable 92 for the eighth wicket with Bishoo.
All told, he faced 127 balls and struck eight fours and a six to put himself on course for his third hundred this year. He gathered his fifty about 40 minutes following the resumption and, after losing Holder, caught at point off Cremer, joined forces with the plucky Bishoo to ram home the Windies advantage.
He drove Jarvis to the extra cover boundary and then flicked him square for four in one over to move into the 80s, and Bishoo was no less enterprising, lashing four fours and a six – a slog over long-on off Cremer – in his 71-ball knock.