Masa’s day not done
Experienced Zimbabwean batsman Hamilton Masakadza tuned up for the first Test match against West Indies with a cultured, unbeaten century off the Sagicor High Performance Centre (HPC) at the Desmond Haynes Oval yesterday, the opening day of the touring team’s only warm-up match.
The 29-year-old right-hander occupied all but 15 minutes of the day’s play after going to the wicket at the fall of the first wicket, when Vusi Sibanda was caught at third slip by Keddy Lesporis off Kemar Roach for 13.
Masakadza was unbeaten on 109 that included a dozen fours and two sixes which took Zimbabwe to 222 for five off 91 overs.
It was a fine effort by Masakadza, who made a Test hundred on debut as a 17-year-old in 2001 in Harare off a West Indies attack led by Reon King and Marlon Black.
Spinners Jomel Warrican and Yannic Cariah shouldered the brunt of the HPC’s bowling after the visitors won the toss and elected to bat.
The pitch offered encouraging pace and bounce to Roach and fellow fast bowlers Sheldon Cotterell, Jason Dawes and Miguel Cummins at the beginning, only to later assume a placid nature.
The first hour went in the Zimbabweans’ favour as 50 runs were plundered. Roach, despite the satisfaction of claiming Sibanda with a full-length delivery outside offstump, conceded 41 from his first spell of eight overs.
Dawes and Cummins stemmed the scoring rate in the remainder of the session, restricting the pair of Masakazda and opening batsman Tino Mawoyo to a mere 12 runs from the next 11 overs.
Only when Warrican replaced Dawes at the northern end for two overs did Masakadza break free to hoist the first of his two sixes and a couple of fours to move to within four of a half-century by lunch.
Masakadza duly completed the first landmark with a sweetly timed on-drive off Dawes for his eighth boundary, having faced 89 balls in 110 minutes’ batting.
Soon after, HPC reaped success when Cotterell, returning for second spell, won an LBW verdict against Mawoyo, who made 14 in a two-hour occupation of the crease.
HPC captain Kyle Hope soon turned to the spinning duo but was forced a endure a lengthy period without success as Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor assisted in posting 52 runs for the third wicket with Masakadza, a veteran of 103 first-class matches.
It was virtually against the run of play when the former was adjudged LBW to the persevering Warrican, and 136-3 was soon transformed to 156-5 as Cariah accounted for left-hander Sean Williams’ wicket to a lazy, lofted drive straight to Dawes at mid-on.
Warrican yorked Timycen Maruma, with the wickets falling on either side of the tea interval.
Maruma’s dismissal proved to be the last triumph for the bowlers as a more circumspect Masakadza moved flawlessly to his century, despite enduring an anxious period during which he played out a maiden from Cariah on 99. The coveted “ton” came in 241 minutes in which he faced 223 balls. He remained content to play the sheet anchor role to the aggressive Malcolm Waller (45 not out – 7X4) with whom he has put on 66 for the sixth wicket.