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Zimbabwe, HPC draw

Wayne Holder

Zimbabwe, HPC draw

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Sagicor High Performance Centre (HPC) and Zimbabwe yesterday played out a predictable draw on an uneventful third and final day of the visitors’ final warm-up before the first Test against West Indies starts here on Tuesday at Kensington Oval.
Having wrapped up the HPC’s first innings within 25 minutes, the Zimbabweans opted for batting practice and occupied the crease for the remainder of play until the captains ended it 40 minutes into the final session.
Opening batsman Vusi Sibanda was the only batsman to make optimum use of a second return to the crease but would have been disappointed in falling short of an imminent century while pacing the visitors to 209 for seven.
In control from the start, the tall right-handed strokemaker made 80 before offering a head high catch to Jermaine Blackwood at mid off. His half century came up in 108 minutes off 82 balls, while the innings lasted 157 minutes. He stroked 13 boundaries from 108 balls.
Sibanda’s was the second of four wickets to fall in quick succession to spinners Yannic Coriah and Jomel Warrican who were surprisingly withheld from the attack while the faster bowlers and even part-time off-spinner Jermaine Blackwood toiled on the lifeless third-day pitch.
A stupendous, one-handed return catch by Cariah to get rid of Sean Williams sparked a mid-afternoon slide that saw wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva and Timycen Maruma back in the pavilion as the total slipped from 140 for two to 168 for six in 13 overs.
First innings century-maker Hamilton Masakadza continued from where he left off to be unbeaten on 26, having posted 39 in quick time with Graeme Cremer, who capped off a rewarding match, finishing 21 not out.
Cremer had earlier grabbed two of the three HPC wickets to fall as their first innings folded for 230 after resuming on 213 for seven in reply to Zimbabwe’s first innings 255 for eight.
The right-arm legspinner found himself on a hat-trick in the first over, winning lbw decisions against Jason Dawes and Warrican with his fourth and fifth deliveries. Impressive figures of seven for 79 from 24 overs would have done his chances of adding to a tally of seven Test matches no harm.
Cariah, 36 not out on resumption, was left stranded on 43 before returning to capture two second innings wickets, while left-arm orthodox spinner Warrican bowled with immaculate control of flight and guile in returning the figures of two for 16 from 16 overs.