BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, CMC – Opener Hamilton Masakadza struck his fifth Test hundred and second against West Indies to rescue Zimbabwe, but rain curtailed a see-sawed opening day of the second Test at Queens Sports Club here yesterday.
The 34-year-old was unbeaten on 101 when the forecast bad weather arrived half-hour after tea with the hosts on 169 for four, after winning the toss and opting to bat first.
Peter Moor, in for his first match of the series, supported with 52 but he fell just before the rain swept across the venue.
No other Zimbabwe batsman made it into double figures as surprisingly, West Indies seamers took prominence as they ruthlessly disposed of the top order inside the first hour of play.
Seamer Kemar Roach finished with two for 24 while new-ball partner Shannon Gabriel grabbed the other wicket in a productive first session as Zimbabwe reached lunch at 56 for three.
Hoping for a better outing following two disappointing displays with the bat in last week’s first Test, Zimbabwe enjoyed no such luxury, quickly finding themselves three wickets down inside the first hour.
Roach struck first in the day’s fourth over with four runs on the board, luring Solomon Mire (4) into a tentative prod at an away-swinger, with wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich taking the edge low down to his right.
Three overs later, Gabriel snapped Craig Ervine’s middle stump with one angled in to send the experienced right-hander on his way without scoring, with seven runs added to the total.
And the innings was in further turmoil when Brendan Taylor played on to Roach for one nearing the hour, leaving Zimbabwe tottering on 14 for three.
However, Masakadza combined with Moor to rescue the innings in a productive 142-run stand for the fourth wicket, to see Zimbabwe safely to lunch and keep West Indies wicket-less in the second session. All told, the right-handed Masakadza struck nine fours and two sixes in a 171-ball knock while Moor, also a right-hander, faced 155 deliveries and counted three fours.
Masakadza gained a reprieve on 15 when he seemed to edge a mis-timed pull at a short one from Gabriel onto his body and into the hands of gully. He was given not out but when West Indies resorted to DRS, replays showed the bowler had over-stepped.
Along with Moor, he then navigated the last hour before lunch but not without alarm as twice edges fell just short of Dowrich as he lived a charmed life.
Unbeaten on 35 at the interval with Moor on 15, the pair put on 91 in the session without being separated, as the West Indies attack toiled in vain.
Masakadza reached his half-century with a pull for four off captain and seamer Jason Holder and celebrated in the following over by depositing leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo over the ropes at mid-wicket.
He strolled into the 60s by whipping Bishoo to the mid-on boundary, drove Gabriel to the straight boundary to move into the 70s before belting part-time off-spinner Roston Chase over mid-wicket for his second six, to edge towards the 90s.
Given out on 86 caught at short leg off Chase before having the decision overturned via DRS, Masakadza inched nervously to tea on 93, and raised three figures in the seventh over after the break with a single to long-on off Chase.
His previous century against West Indies came in 2001 in Harare in his debut Test.
Moor, unbeaten on 47 at tea with Zimbabwe on 147 for three, completed his third Test half-century in the third over following the resumption when he punched a Chase full toss to the cover boundary.
Zimbabwe were strengthening their position when Moor misjudged one from Chase two overs later and was bowled.
Rain ended play shortly afterwards leaving an early start on Monday’s second day with 98 overs scheduled.
ZIMBABWE 1st innings
H Masakadza not out 101
S Mire c wkp Dowrich b Roach 4
C Ervine b Gabriel 0
B Taylor b Roach 1
P Moor b Chase 52
Sikandar Raza not out 9
Extras (nb2) 2
TOTAL (4 wkts, 61 overs) 169
To bat: M Waller, +R Chakabva, *A Cremer, C Mpofu, T Chisoro.
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-11, 3-14, 4-156.
Bowling: Gabriel 13-3-37-1, Roach 10-4-24-2, Blackwood 4-1-8-0, Holder 11-1-28-0, Bishoo 14-2-46-0, Chase 9-1-26-1.
WEST INDIES – *J Holder, K Brathwaite, K Powell, K Hope, S Hope, R Chase, J Blackwood, +S Dowrich, K Roach, D Bishoo, S Gabriel.
Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena, Simon Fry; TV – Paul Reiffel.