Price makes life uneasy for West Indies
Close West Indies 241 for 6 (Hinds 79, Ganga 73, Price 3 for 39) trail Zimbabwe 507 for 9 dec (Streak 127*) by 266 runs
Ray Price: three important wickets which turned the game Zimbabwe's way
Zimbabwe enjoyed another day of surprises and success after a battling bowling performance, led by Ray Price, shattered the West Indian middle order and left them reeling at 241 for 6 by the close on the third day's play - and still needing 67 to avoid the follow-on.
Price took three late wickets to give Zimbabwe the edge and leave West Indies with a tricky morning session tomorrow which could decide which way the game will go. But the bowlers had to wait for a frustrating 90 minutes before play started due to a freak incident involving a heavy roller. It's not often that a hole in the pitch stops play, but that's what happened this morning.
As the wicket was being rolled before play, a practice ball got jammed right underneath the roller and left a deep indentation in the pitch at the City end. To make matters worse, it was just short of a good length outside the left-hander's off stump, and considering West Indies have five left-handers, they were understandably keen to make sure the problem was solved. An auger was borrowed from the neighbouring golf club to replace the small area of turf, and the umpires finally decided it would be possible to start play one and a half hours late.
When play did get underway, Heath Streak, eager for wickets, began with an attacking field and openers Chris Gayle and Hinds were quick to exploit the gaps, galloping along at almost a run-a-ball, mainly through well-placed ones and twos. Streak was surprisingly expensive for a while, but then settled down and found movement under the overcast skies, severely testing the batsmen.
Hinds scored the quicker of the two, alternating bursts of superb stroke-play with periods of solid defence. But after they had put on fifty, Gayle tried to turn a straight ball from Streak to leg and missed and was correctly given out lbw for 14 (50 for 1). Daren Ganga then immediately settled in with Hinds, who reached his fifty off 70 balls, and they brought up the hundred in the 25th over.
Hinds began to play with more aggression, attacking the bowling with gay abandon and smashing 14 fours. He had a century in his sights, but he became a little too reckless and miscued a pull off the accurate Blessing Mahwire to Andy Blignaut at mid-on for 79 (127 for 2).
Wavell Hinds: had no problems dealing with the repaired area of the wicket
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Brian Lara, in his first Test innings against Zimbabwe, played forward firmly to his first ball from Mahwire and timed it so well that it beat the bowler and glided all the way to the boundary. Then followed a keen duel between Lara and Streak, in which Lara came out on top of. He played some handsome strokes, especially the flashing square-cut, but he then relaxed his concentration and tried to hit Price for a straight six, only for Mahwire to take a good running catch on the long-on boundary (179 for 3). The field then briefly resembled a scrum as the Zimbabwean players raced to celebrate with each other.
Ganga, meanwhile, was steadily growing in stature, and was his usual cautious self, providing the rock of the innings. He and Ramnaresh Sarwan consolidated for a while, and passed 200 without any troubles. But two quick wickets by Price swung the balance of the match dramatically.
First Sarwan played right across the line to a straight ball and was plumb lbw for 3 (211 for 4). Then Ganga, on 73, suffered a freak dismissal when he played a ball from Mahwire firmly down into the ground off the back foot, only for it to bounce up, hit his elbow and roll onto the stumps (215 for 5). Then Ridley Jacobs, who had not looked comfortable, especially against Price, was given out by Billy Bowden caught by Mark Vermeulen at bat-pad. The replay was not altogether convincing, but the ball appeared to kiss the face of the bat off the pad (240 for 6).
West Indies were suddenly feeling the heat, and shortly after Jacobs's wicket, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Vasbert Drakes eagerly accepted the offer of bad light and the day ended with Zimbabwe enjoying the unusual experience of being on top in a Test match.