<
>

West Indies take series as final day of Second Test is ruined by rain

Unseasonal rain, accompanied by more seasonal cold, brought an end to Zimbabwe's longest season after West Indies, chasing 348 to win, had progressed from 42 for one overnight to 98 for one. The play that did take place suggested a draw would have resulted anyway, so West Indies won the two-match series by virtue of their victory in Bulawayo. Zimbabwe's sole consolation was that they had fought back at the last ditch with great honour.

Zimbabwe continued their surge for victory in miserable weather in front of an almost empty ground, as no schoolchildren were bussed in for the final day, no doubt to the benefit of their health. The cricket was not quite as dismal as the weather, but Zimbabwe's seam bowlers could find no assistance from the pitch or conditions. Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan simply took batting practice, under no pressure, and after half-an-hour a tame draw seemed the most likely result.

It took over an hour for Zimbabwe to turn, in desperation, to a spinner, and immediately Raymond Price found some sharp turn. West Indies seemed to have no vision of victory, and perhaps, had the weather allowed, Price might have caused them some flutters.

20-minutes before lunch the drizzle began and the players were able to seek the shelter of the pavilion; not so the media, who had no escape from the makeshift media centre still in existence at this ground, which has proved unsuitable throughout the winter.

Less than 10-minutes were lost, though, and immediately on resumption Taibu missed stumping Sarwan off Price. Hamilton Masakadza bowled his leg-breaks for the first time immediately before lunch, and missed a low, hard return catch from Gayle.

Only 20 minutes after lunch drizzle drove the players off the field again. This time it developed into a heavy downpour, while the ground staff stayed out in it, trying desperately to save a match that, in such unpleasant climatic conditions, probably nobody wanted. The rain had stopped by tea, which was taken early.

The end came rather farcically. Five further balls were bowled, enough for Gayle to reach his 50, when further rain drove the players off the field; it stopped, the players returned, so did the drizzle . . . they played on briefly until common sense finally won the day. Another downpour then made it clear that the match was 'de facto' over long before the 'de jure' announcement was made. West Indies finished with 98 for one (Gayle 52, Sarwan 31).