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5 memorable moments from Windies vs Zimbabwe Tests

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West_Indies_Zimbabwe_Test_CricketThe West Indies have begun their first Test tour of Zimbabwe in 14 years, with the first of two Test matches underway at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. Bolstered by the return of Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis, the hosts will be aiming to upstage an unpredictable Windies side – something that they have never done in over 17 years, though they came agonisingly close on a couple of occasions.

Since their first meeting, an extraordinary Test at Port-of-Spain in 1999-00, the West Indies and Zimbabwe have clashed eight times in Test cricket, with the men from the Caribbean emerging victorious on six occasions, plus two draws. Even with this shorter history, matches between the two teams have produced quite a few occurrences that ranged from the record-breaking to the bizarre. Here is a look back at five such moments that have lent lustre to this infrequent fixture.

Zimbabwe snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (Port-of-Spain, 1999-00)

Zimbabwe were well on course to win their inaugural Test against the West Indies, until a manic final-day collapse cost them the game. Skipper Andy Flower’s superb 113* handed Zimbabwe a first-innings lead of 49 after the hosts were skittled out for 187. Heath Streak (5/27, 9/72 in the match) then strengthened Zimbabwe’s position, and his team needed only 99 for arguably their most significant Test win yet.

However, the West Indian pace quartet, particularly the talented Franklyn Rose (4/19) and the old warhorse Curtly Ambrose, went on to decimate the Zimbabwean batting, inducing a sensational collapse from 37/2 to 63 all out to conjure a remarkable 35-run win against the odds. Only once before had a team failed to chase down a target of less than 100 in a Test – England, chasing 85, had lost to Australia by seven runs at the Oval in 1882.

Hamilton Masakadza’s debut to remember (Harare, 2001)

After losing the opening Test at Bulawayo by an innings and 176 runs, Zimbabwe looked set to suffer yet another big defeat, as they went into their second innings at Harare with a deficit of 216 and more than three days remaining for survival. It was left to debutant Hamilton Masakadza, yet to turn 18 and batting at number three in a pressure situation, to carry out the much-needed rescue act.

Displaying a level of maturity that belied his age, Masakadza dug in for nearly six and a half hours to grind out a match-saving century – 119 from 316 balls – and with support from the batsmen to follow, ensured that Zimbabwe reached 563/9 and the safety of a draw. At 17 years and 352 days, he was then the youngest batsman to score a hundred on Test debut, and remains Zimbabwe’s only teenaged centurion till date.

Windies escape by the skin of their teeth (Harare, 2003-04)

The West Indies barely managed to avoid beginning their long African tour on the wrong note, and they had their tenth-wicket pair to thank for it. Zimbabwe were struggling at 154/5 in the first innings, but a lower-order revival, centered around a career-best 127* from captain Heath Streak, powered them to 507. Left-arm spinner Raymond Price then collected 6/73 (he would go on to finish with 10/161 in the Test) to hand his side a first-innings lead worth 172.

Zimbabwe declared before lunch on the final day, setting a target of 373 and giving themselves a little over two sessions to bowl the tourists out. The West Indian batsmen failed to deliver, and when the ninth wicket fell at 204 with nearly 12 overs to go, the writing seemed to be on the wall. However, Ridley Jacobs (60*) and Fidel Edwards battled for 32 minutes and 71 deliveries in fading light, snatching a heart-stopping draw to the immense relief of their teammates.

Vintage Lara puts paid to Zimbabwean hopes (Bulawayo, 2003-04)

Having come within a whisker of victory at Harare, Zimbabwe went into the second and final Test at Bulawayo with a realistic chance to draw the series. The hosts did well to have the Windies at 161/3, but captain Brian Lara, the legendary ‘Prince of Trinidad’, clubbed a whirlwind 191 off just 203 balls, with 23 fours and four sixes, to take the game away. The tourists’ first-innings total of 481 ultimately proved to be the key to a 128-run triumph.   

Shillingford runs riot in home territory (Roseau, 2012-13)

The Clive Lloyd Trophy was retained by the West Indies with a resounding 2-0 win at home, and pivotal to their success was off-spinner Shane Shillingford, who in 2012 had become the first Dominican to play Test cricket. After a match return of 9/104 in the first Test, Shillingford performed even better on his home ground at Roseau, capturing a memorable ten-wicket haul (5/59 and 5/34) as Zimbabwe slid to a heavy defeat, by an innings and 65 runs, in under three days.

 

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket blogger and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of Test...

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