Zimbabwe Brace For Record Chase Against Windies
Windies – 219 and 369-8 in 122.3 overs (Roston Chase 91*, Kraigg Brathwaite 86, Devendra Bishoo 44, Shai Hope 44, Kyle Hope 43; Graeme Cremer 3/111, Kyle Jarvis 2/66, Sean Williams 2/90)
Zimbabwe – 159 all out in 61.3 overs (Hamilton Masakadza 42, Craig Ervine 39, Solomon Mire 27; Devendra Bishoo 5/79, Kemar Roach 2/23, Jason Holder 2/25)
Day 3 – Stumps: Windies lead by 429 runs with two wickets remaining
Zimbabwe will have to mount the highest chase in Test history after the Windies chalked up a 429-run third-day lead on Monday at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
At stumps the tourists were on 369 for eight, having added 281 to their overnight score, with Kraigg Brathwaite and Roston Chase bolstering the innings with brilliant fifties.
Chase, still unbeaten, is just nine runs short of what would be his fourth Test century.
It was a frustrating day for Zimbabwe, who had done so well in restricting the Windies to a first-innings total of 219 on the opening day of this match.
After tumbling to 159 all out in their response, the home side knew only another outstanding performance with the ball would see them re-seizing control of the game.
But the Windies had a different game plan this time round, starting day three on 88 for one – a lead of 148 runs – with Brathwaite and Kyle Hope coming out to resume play on 38 and 32 respectively.
The pair added 19 runs to the overnight total before Malcolm Jarvis was rewarded for an excellent spell, a fine piece of reverse-swing bowling trapping Kyle Hope plumb lbw – he had scored 43, with five boundaries, off 106 deliveries.
Zimbabwe fluffed a golden chance to keep the Windies’ steady consolidation in check when Brathwaite, on 60, snicked a perfectly-pitched legbreak from Graeme Cremer to slip only to be dropped by Hamilton Masakadza.
For the second time in three overs and having added seven runs to his tally, Brathwaite got yet another life when he edged another fine delivery from Cremer only to be dropped by the wicketkeeper, Regis Chakabva.
At lunch the Windies had stretched their lead to 215, with Brathwaite on 70 and Shai Hope on 24.
After the break, Brathwaite continued to enjoy his reprieve and appeared on course to a century when dodgy footwork finally cost him his wicket – he was trapped lbw by Sikandar Raza having scored 86, including four boundaries and a single six, off 229 balls; 174 for three.
After taking the new ball, Cremer brought Jarvis back into the attack, but the Windies remained resolute and patient in the face of brilliant bowling.
With the Caribbean side now leading by 271 runs, Jarvis sent the other Hope brother packing, trapping Shai lbw with a beauty that skidded back in to smack the flap of the front pad, beating the inside edge.
Shai Hope made 44 off 122 balls and his knock included four boundaries; 211 for four.
Jermaine Blackwood only lasted five balls, scoring three runs before Chakabva produced a sharp stumping after the batsman poked at and missed a length ball from Williams; 224 for five.
Williams was to strike again when he had Shane Dowrich (12) edging the ball low to first slip, and this time round Masakadza firmly clasped the catch.
Tea was immediately taken, with the Windies now leading by 304 runs.
After the break, Jason Holder smacked a six and a four off the first two balls he faced from Williams and the visiting captain raced to 24 off 23 deliveries before his counterpart, Cremer, had him slicing a catch to Chris Mpofu; 277 for seven.
Off the 69th ball he faced, Chase forced a Cremer delivery to long-off for a single that brought up his well-played fifty.
On the other end, Devendra Bishoo, so lethal with the ball when Zimbabwe batted, was enjoying his turn with the willow.
He scored 44, including four boundaries and a six, off 71 balls before he slogged a catch to Williams off Cremer.
And that brought day three proceedings to a close at 369 for eight, with the Windies leading by a massive 429 runs.
West Indies’ successful pursuit of 418 to beat Australia in May 2003 ranks as the highest run-chase in Test cricket history.
Can Zimbabwe break the record?
Well, their work is cut out and the stage is set for a riveting finale to this Test match!