BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, CMC – Opener Kieran Powell agonisingly missed out on a century but wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich chose the ideal time to break out of a protracted slump as he and captain Jason Holder carved out polished, unbeaten half-centuries to put West Indies in control of the second and final Test here Tuesday.
At the close of the pivotal third day at Queens Sports Club, the Windies were 374 for seven in their first innings, in reply to Zimbabwe’s 326 all out – a lead of 48 heading into Wednesday’s penultimate day.
The left-handed Powell top-scored with 90 to fall short of his fourth Test hundred while Dowrich stroked 74 and Holder, 71, as West Indies fought back gallantly against a spirited Zimbabwe side on an attritional day.
Shai Hope extended his excellent form with 40 while Roston Chase scored 32 and nightwatchman Devendra Bishoo, 23.
West Indies were tested by off-spinner Sikandar Raza who ended with five for 82 and managed to rock the visitors with key strikes in the second session that left the innings tottering at 230 for seven at one stage.
Resuming the day on 78 for one, West Indies flourished early on as Powell and Bishoo extended their second wicket stand to 55 before being separated.
The left-handed Bishoo, yet to the score at the start, faced 52 deliveries and struck a single boundary before becoming the first casualty of the morning.
Dropped on 21 at mid-wicket by Brendan Taylor of leg-spinner Graeme Cremer, Bishoo failed to capitalise on his good fortune, chipping a gentle return catch back to Raza.
And with just four runs added, Kyle Hope’s misery at international level continued when he played back and was trapped lbw to Raza for one, leaving the Windies 135 for three at the first drinks break.
Powell then set his sights on three figures as he and Shai Hope set about stabilising the innings. He reached his fourth Test half-century in the third over of the morning and then carefully went about compiling a crucial innings which lasted 230 balls and included seven fours.
He had added 28 with Shai Hope and looked a sure bet for a hundred when he perished half-hour before lunch, fending off a short ball from pacer Chris Mpofu to be well caught by Sean Ervine diving to his right at gully.
On 188 for four at lunch with Shai Hope and 23 and Chase on 16, West Indies suffered key blows on resumption to leave the contest in the balance.
The pair had put on 56 for the fifth wicket when Chase missed a reverse sweep at Raza and was lbw and Jermaine Blackwood lasted just 13 deliveries before falling to a catch at midwicket by Cremer for five, off Raza.
Zimbabwe then struck a key blow when Shai Hope misjudged one from Raza, played down the wrong line and was bowled after facing 101 deliveries and stroking five fours, as West Indies lost three quick wickets for 11 runs.
Tottering dangerously, the innings was rescued by Dowrich and Holder who have so far put on 144 in an enterprising eighth wicket stand.
Dowrich, who managed just 24 runs in six innings on the recent tour of England and scores of 11 and 12 in last week’s first Test, finally found his touch to hammer nine fours in a 153-ball knock.
Holder, meanwhile, tucked his seventh fifty in Tests, facing 132 balls and cracking six fours and a six – a clean hit over long-on off Raza on the stroke of the final hour of the day.
Unbeaten on 36 at tea with the Windies on 288 for seven, Dowrich reached his sixth Test half-century in the seventh over after the break, square-driving Chisoro for four.
Holder, on 25 at the interval, played positively throughout, taking a couple of boundaries off Mpofu in the second over following the resumption before raising his landmark with an ambitious reverse sweep for four off Cremer.
ZIMBABWE 1st innings 326
WEST INDIES 1st innings
(overnight 78 for one)
K Brathwaite c Masakadza b Cremer 32
K Powell c Ervine b Mpofu 90
D Bishoo c & b Sikandar Raza 23
K Hope lbw b Sikandar Raza 1
S Hope b Sikandar Raza 40
R Chase lbw b Sikandar Raza 32
J Blackwood c Cremer b Sikandar Raza 5
+S Dowrich not out 75
*J Holder not out 71
Extras (b2, lb2, nb1) 5
TOTAL (7 wkts, 150 overs) 374
To bat: K Roach, S Gabriel.
Fall of wickets: 1-76 , 2-131, 3-135, 4-163, 5-219, 6-225, 7-230.
Bowling: Mpofu 21-7-46-1, Mire 5-2-5-0, Cremer 43-7-134-1, Raza 43-12-82-5, Chisoro 34-7-94-0, Masakadza 4-1-9-0.
Position: West Indies lead by 48 runs with three wickets remaining.
Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena, Simon Fry; TV – Paul Reiffel.