Brathwaite and Chanderpaul tons extend West Indies' grip on another curtailed day
Overnight showers led to a wet outfield, allowing only 89 overs of play in two days
West Indies 221 for 0 (Brathwaite 116*, Chanderpaul 101*) vs Zimbabwe
After a wet outfield claimed the first two sessions on day 2 in Bulawayo, gritty centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul saw West Indies extend their grip on the first Test against Zimbabwe.
Only 51 overs were played on a rain-curtailed opening day, and West Indies - resuming from 112 for 0 - made the most of the 38 overs on offer on the second. Overnight rain meant that even though covers were off early on Sunday, the outfield was not fit for play and after several inspections, it was decided that the game would begin after tea.
Both batters began the day on 55, and while Chanderpaul began to rotate strike better than on Saturday, it was Brathwaite who got the first couple of boundaries away. With more than three sessions in the game already lost, the two openers upped the tempo, increasing the run rate from 2.03 on day 1 to 2.86 on day 2.
The Zimbabwe bowlers toiled away again, but for the second day in a row, they had no wickets to show.
Brathwaite brought up his 12th Test century in 226 balls in the 82nd over with a late cut past slip off left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza. His knock was predominantly about strike rotation and showcased excellent communication with Chanderpaul when running between the wickets. He scored just five boundaries while making his century; the lowest boundary count in a Test century since 2002 is four.
Throughout the two days, Brathwaite and Chanderpaul took risky singles, even after playing the ball to close fielders. This meant Zimbabwe had a few opportunities, but nothing clear cut, as the two openers kept the scoreboard ticking despite not being able to find the boundary with the kind of regularity they would have liked.
And once Zimbabwe took the second new ball, Brathwaite - having just reached his century - was quick to capitalise, using the extra pace on the ball to get a couple of quick boundaries off Richard Ngarava and Victor Nyauchi.
While his father Shivnarine Chanderpaul had taken 52 innings and nearly eight years to score his maiden Test century away from home, Tagenarine needed just five innings and just over two months.
In the 88th over, Chanderpaul pulled Nyauchi past midwicket to move to 99, and after a few nervy moments, tucked the final delivery of the over behind square to bring up the century off 286 balls. Once his helmet came off in celebration, the relief and joy on his face were palpable.
Having been one of the few positives from West Indies' tour of Australia, Chanderpaul showed he had the stomach to dig in and stay at the crease for long durations. It had taken him 19 deliveries to get off the mark on the first day and he showed the same kind of patience on Sunday. He was unfazed even as the dot balls built, putting away the bad balls whenever he had a chance.
In the process, he also became the first West Indies opener apart from Brathwaite to hit a Test century since Chris Gayle in March 2013.
Brathwaite and Chanderpaul have now put on the highest opening partnership for West Indies since July 2012, when Chris Gayle and Kieron Powell put on 254 against New Zealand.
For a long time, the West Indies Test captain has fought a lone battle for them at the top of the order. Finally, he seems to have found a partner who can give him much-needed support. But with more showers expected later tonight, they will have to keep picking up pace if they are to push for a win in this Test.