July 9, 2001

Bowlers' day as West Indies clash with ZCU President's XI

Morning sun was followed by miserable chilly weather at Harare's Country Club, headquarters of the CFX Academy, as the West Indians met a ZCU President's XI in the first of their two first-class warm-up matches before the First Test against Zimbabwe.

It was an eventful day, dominated by bowlers, as the tourists battled to total 191 and then reduced the home side to 110 for eight by the close.

The home captain, Mluleki Nkala, put the tourists in to bat on winning the toss, eager to take advantage of the early help bowlers are generally getting in the winter. David Mutendera, often criticized for inconsistency, was at his best.

After the excitement of the triangular tournament, there was a somnolent atmosphere at this scenic ground, and the tourists seemed to respond to it.

Off the first ball of the match, Leon Garrick emulated his unfortunate Test debut by hitting Mutendera straight to gully, and Chris Gayle also failed to score; lbw in Mutendera's next over. The West Indians were four for two wickets.

The pitch was rather slow, but as the bowlers kept the ball up to the bat they found good seam movement. Mutendera struck again in his fourth over, having Shivnarine Chanderpaul (8) caught at the wicket by Colin Delport, and worse was to follow as Doug Hondo got in on the act, taking a return catch as Wavell Hinds (13) skyed an attempted hook.

The West Indians were 35 for four. Runs still came at a good rate, though, and the 50 came up in just under an hour.

Mutendera returned the unusual figures of 7-1-41-3 in his opening spell, and was not needed again. Sean Ervine struck in his first over with his medium-pacers, Marlon Samuels (12) going on the drive and snicking to the keeper. Ramnaresh Sarwan played some fine strokes while Ridley Jacobs provided steadier batting, until Sarwan (29) was adjudged lbw to Gary Brent and made his departure at funereal pace.

The 100 came up in the 26th over, whereupon Jacobs (13) clipped Brent to be caught at square leg. Lunch seemed to do their lower order a world of good, as Neil McGarrell (47) and Dinanath Ramnarine (28) broke out in a flurry of boundaries. Both fell in quick succession, Ramnarine bowled by a beautifully flighted delivery from Paul Strang, and the tourists were eventually dismissed for 191.

The umpires were giving their fingers plenty of exercise on this frigid day, and the President's XI had not opened their account when Gavin Rennie was adjudged lbw to Colin Stuart. He and Reon King, both fighting for Test places, got a surprising amount of lift from the pitch and batting was not easy. Guy Whittall did not look at all comfortable before he was bowled by King for 5. At tea, the home side in turn were struggling at 12 for two.

After the break Dirk Viljoen (1) was another lbw victim to Stuart, but schoolboy opener Hamilton Masakadza was still there, and he was quick to take advantage with some skilful strokes as Stuart's fires waned, although King remained dangerous and hit batsmen several times. Sean Ervine, bombarded with short balls by King, eventually succumbed, snicking to the keeper for nine.

Masakadza (35) withstood King courageously, but finally fell to a brilliant running and diving catch by Jacobs near the square-leg umpire when he top-edged a sweep against Ramnarine. He could well be opening for Zimbabwe next season, but in the meantime his team was in deep waters at 53 for five.

As King rested, a useful partnership developed between Nkala (21) and wicket-keeper Colin Delport (20), with the latter dominating until he clipped Ramnarine to midwicket. Gary Brent (1) was lbw to Neil McGarrell as West Indies used their spinners in poor light, and Nkala holed out to cover as the President's XI crept into three figures. At this point bad light ended play for the day, with Strang (10) joined at the crease by Mutendera.