India leave Zimbabwe staring into the abyss
Zimbabwe Select 67 for 5 trail India A 524 for 8 dec (Patel 126, Badrinath 103*, Pujara 100, Uthappa 67, Rainsford 4-100) by 457 runs
Another game but the same old story as Zimbabwe Select ended the second day at Bulawayo's Queens Sports Club facing the follow-on as they staggered to 67 for 5 in reply to India A's 524 for 8.
Resuming on 291 for 2, India lost an early wicket when Mohammad Kaif edged Gary Brent to wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu without adding to his overnight 26. Taibu's second catch of the morning, this time off Ed Rainsford, accounted for Rohit Sharma, but Zimbabwe's successes did not stem the flow of runs.
Parthiv Patel completed his hundred, opening up to good effect before he dragged Prosper Utseya on to his stumps attempting a sweep for 126, and Brent trapped Irfan Pathan leg-before for 0. As the declaration loomed the tail hit out, Subramaniam Badrinath struck two sixes and ten fours on his way to 103 and Kaif declared once he had reached his hundred.
The pitch remained good and Hamilton Masakadza and Tinotenda Mawoyo, preferred to the fit again Terry Duffin despite his failures at Harare, put on 45 for the first wicket before the innings fell apart in the final hour.
Masakadza started the rot, falling to a catch at slip by Robin Uthappa off left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha for 24. Vusi Sibanda, who promised so much going into the World Cup but who has failed to impress since, lost his leg stump going for an ambitious hit off Ojha for 0 and then Mwoyo fell leg-before to Yo Mahesh for 20. Three wickets had fallen for no runs.
Almost everything depended on Taibu and Matsikenyeri, and briefly they seemed to have stopped the rot. Piyush Chawla, however, weighed in with two late wickets. First he bowled the in-form Taibu for 10 and then removed nightwatchman Rainsford in the same way.
With Zimbabwe likely to follow-on tomorrow, the issue is whether they can put up a better fight and avoid an innings defeat.