Zimbabwe v West Indies, 1st Test, Harare, 2nd day

Streak's maiden century lifts Zimbabwe past 500

The Wisden Bulletin by John Ward

November 5, 2003

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Close Zimbabwe 507 for 9 dec (Taibu 83, Streak 127*, Blignaut 91, Edwards 5-133 lead West Indies 11 for 0 by 496 runs
Scorecard



Heath Streak: a first Test century and a record stand with Andy Blignaut
© AFP

The second day at Harare was arguably the best one Zimbabwe have enjoyed in Test cricket for some years. The allrounders more than made up for the failure of the top order with some superb batting, with Heath Streak's first Test century the highlight of an imposing total of 507 for 9 declared. West Indies only had time for 2.4 overs, in which they reduced the deficit by 11 runs, before bad light brought an early close.

The highlight of the day was a national-record stand of 168 for the eighth wicket between Streak, Zimbabwe's captain, and Andy Blignaut. Streak reached his maiden Test century in the last over before tea.

Streak began the day with 16 and did most of the early scoring, with Tatenda Taibu, who started with 75, perhaps a little overawed at the prospect of his first Test century. Taibu added only three to his overnight score in 40 minutes, before finally driving Fidel Edwards square for four.

But it was not to be Taibu's day. He had reached 83, from 186 balls, when Edwards deceived him with a full-length slower one, which he inside-edged into his stumps (314 for 7). Taibu departed, distraught, after a stand of 81 with his captain.

In came Andy Blignaut, who immediately laid into the West Indian bowlers. He has not always played his natural big-hitting game in Test cricket, but now he scored his first 12 runs off seven balls, and also missed another boundary when a powerful straight-drive cannoned into the stumps at the bowler's end. Brian Lara suddenly began to readjust his field with a vengeance, much as opposing captains have to do when Adam Gilchrist arrives at the crease. But Blignaut suddenly decided to back off and slow down, and the element of hot-blooded challenge faded from the game.

After lunch it seemed that both sides had decided to adopt a wait-and-see approach. Lara set defensive fields, while Streak and Blignaut were content to push for ones and twos instead of trying to take the initiative - an uncharacteristic approach for both these normally aggressive batsmen. However, this time the end justified the means.

The most threatening action came from the sky, as there were occasional flashes of lightning and rumblings of thunder in the distance. Just before drinks some light rain drove the players off, and 24 minutes were lost.



Tatenda Taibu: missed out on a maiden Test century
© AFP

Blignaut's fifty came up from 86 balls, which indicates great restraint by his standards, but after reaching the landmark he began to open out again, although he still did not unleash the full devastation of which he is capable. Soon he and Streak had sailed past Zimbabwe's eighth-wicket record partnership in all Tests, the 111 of Guy Whittall and Bryan Strang against Pakistan at Harare in 1997-98. There was great tension as Streak, faced the last over before tea, from Edwards, on 99 - but he steered the fifth ball to third man to reach the magical three figures for the first time in Tests.

After tea Zimbabwe continued to accumulate, making it obvious that Streak had no intention of making an early declaration. Blignaut was soon approaching his own century, and it took a brilliant catch to bring the stand to an end. Blignaut cut Vasbert Drakes hard, only for Chris Gayle at deep gully to throw himself to his right and cling on to a superb catch (482 for 8). Blignaut was out for 91, one run short of his career-best, which came against the same opposition on the same ground just over two years ago.

Raymond Price came and went for 2, adjudged lbw by umpire Billy Bowden even though the ball seemed to be slipping down leg (495 for 9), but Streak just kept going. Then suddenly he declared in the middle of an over by Edwards, who had toiled long and hard to take 5 for 133 runs. Streak remained unbeaten on 127, just four runs short of his career-best in first-class cricket. He faced 264 balls and hit 12 fours.

As it turned out, he might as well have batted on. The light deteriorated rapidly, and only 16 balls were bowled in the West Indian innings before they came off for bad light. West Indies have their backs to the wall, but given Zimbabwe's limited bowling attack there is no reason why they should not at least match Zimbabwe's big total on what is a good batting pitch.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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