By Liam Brickhill in Bulawayo
West Indies 219 (Shai Hope 90*, Cremer 4-64) and 373 (Chase 95, Cremer 4-114) beat Zimbabwe 159 (Bishoo 5-79) and 316 (Taylor 73, Bishoo 4-105) by 117 runs
(ESPNcricinfo) Devendra Bishoo cut through Zimbabwe’s batsmen for the second time in the match, finishing with 4 for 105 in the innings – and 9 for 184 in the match – as West Indies surged to a 117-run win on day four at Queens Sports Club. Brendan Taylor, in his comeback Test match, top-scored with 73 in the second innings but Zimbabwe struggled to capitalize on a promising opening stand and West Indies chipped away regularly. With plenty of spin on offer all day, the slow bowlers did the bulk of the damage, Roston Chase and Kraigg Brathwaite contributing three wickets between them to support Bishoo’s effort.
As was the case in the first innings, too often Zimbabwe were the authors of their own demise this afternoon. Sean Williams charged unnecessarily at Bishoo to be stumped, Sikandar Raza cut a long hop to extra cover, Malcolm Waller was run out after being called through for a non-existent single, and Regis Chakabva offered Chase a simple caught-and-bowled. Taylor, finally, took on Brathwaite’s arm for an unlikely two and was run out with minutes to go before the scheduled close of play. From a relatively healthy 219 for 4, Zimbabwe stumbled to 253 for 8 with Taylor’s needless dismissal, prompting West Indies to ask for an extra half hour that allowed them to romp to victory with a day to spare.
The balance of the match had been completely different during the first session of the day. Asked to survive six sessions or score 434 to avoid defeat after Roston Chase fell for 95 and West Indies were bowled out for 373 this morning, Zimbabwe’s openers were off to steady start. They responded to testing spells from Bishoo with positive intent despite the turn and bounce on offer, setting a platform for an unlikely rearguard with 76 runs before lunch.
Masakadza once again profited from the pull shot, while Mire mixed crunching hits into the leg side with dabs and steers through gully. Such confident strokeplay was the hallmark of the opening stand, which was by far the longest of the innings, but it was eventually broken by Brathwaite’s part-time offspin. Masakadza reached fifty from 87 deliveries – his first half century at this ground – but soon afterwards popped a regulation catch to Shai Hope at short leg.
With that, the hosts were 99 for 1, and that soon became 109 for 2 when Mire couldn’t quite get his bat down on a Roach yorker in time and was bowled for 47. His dismissal brought Taylor to the crease, and he looked a very different batsman to the one who last played for Zimbabwe at the 2015 World Cup. Shorn of its flourishes and with no trigger movement, his still, upright batting oozed minimalist grace. He was also in no rush to get going, but some of the old shots were still there. His first boundary came from a ramped uppercut that went well over the wicketkeeper, and Taylor was to repeat the stroke more than once in his innings.
At the other end, Craig Ervine was similarly unhurried and looked in no trouble either until he played around a legbreak from Bishoo to be lbw for 18. Zimbabwe wasted a review attempting to reverse that decision, and there was a similar air of profligacy to Williams’ innings. Rushing down the pitch at Bishoo, he was stumped for 6 to gift West Indies their fourth wicket of the session.
Perhaps chastened by his first innings effort, Raza was far more circumspect early on in his knock. Lunging to defend pace and spin alike, his only flourish was to biff Bishoo over wide long on for six and he looked well set when, against the run of play, he cut a loose long hop from the same bowler straight to Chase in the covers.
Zimbabwe were 219 for 4 with that dismissal, and deflated rapidly thereafter. A brain-fade from Taylor brought Waller’s demise for 11, and soon afterwards Taylor committed harakiri to run himself out for 73. When Chase held onto a return catch from Chakabva and Bishoo also induced a caught-and-bowled to get rid of Cremer with the new ball, Zimbabwe were 263 for 9 and the match seemed, for all intents and purposes, over.
Chris Mpofu and Kyle Jarvis weren’t quite done yet, however. Matching each other stroke for stroke, their devil-may-care batting provided the small crowd with some wonderful entertainment. Mpofu, in particular, drew smiles and cheers from his home crowd while spanking a career-best 33 during a last wicket stand of 53. When he was caught at long on attempting another big hit, West Indies wrapped up a victory that had seemed unlikely when they were bowled out for just 219 in their first innings on Saturday.