Motie gives Zimbabwe a scare but debutant Tafadzwa Tsiga helps salvage draw
WI left-arm spinner takes career-best 4 for 50 but visitors run out of time in Bulawayo
Zimbabwe 379 for 9 dec (Ballance 137*, Kaia 67, Joseph 3-75) and 134 for 6 (Chibhabha 31, Tsiga 24, Motie 4-50, Chase 2-9) drew with West Indies 447 for 6 dec (Chanderpaul 207*, Brathwaite 182, Mavuta 5-140) and 203 for 5 dec (Reifer 58, Blackwood 57, Masakadza 3-71, Evans 2-41)
Gudakesh Motie put in a career-best performance to keep West Indies in the hunt for an unlikely win late on the fifth day, but the visitors just ran out of time as the opening Test against Zimbabwe ended in a draw. After West Indies set Zimbabwe a target of 272 in about a session-and-a-half, Motie picked up 4 for 50 in 24 overs, leaving the hosts in all sorts of trouble, but the debutant wicketkeeper Tafadzwa Tsiga made an unbeaten 24 off 83 balls to bail his side out.
Zimbabwe had started the chase with positive intent with Tanunurwa Makoni getting two fours in the first over, which was bowled by Kemar Roach. However, it did not take Motie long to strike as he lured Makoni into a drive and had him caught behind for 9. Chamu Chibhabha stuck a firm cover drive off Roach but was unsettled by Alzarri Joseph's pace. The fast bowler induced a thick outside edge off Chibhabha's bat, but Joshua Da Silva was wrong-footed and the ball flew to the left of first slip.
Kaia and Chibhabha added 47 for the second wicket before Kaia flicked a simple catch to Kraigg Brathwaite at midwicket to give Motie his second wicket. Chibhabha then departed next when he pushed a length ball from Roston Chase to Jermaine Blackwood who took a smart catch to his right at slip. Motie then struck again as Zimbabwe slipped to 83 for 4 with still close to an hour-and-half of the day's play left.
However, Gary Ballance and Tsiga adopted a measured approach and helped Zimbabwe get closer to safety. West Indies tried a number of things, which included Jason Holder resorting to bowling offbreaks but the duo stood firm for 19 overs. Chase then produced the breakthrough when he strangled Ballance down the leg side and in the next over Motie trapped Brad Evans in front. But Tsiga remained resolute, while Wellington Masakadza faced 36 balls without scoring before the two teams shook hands as the opening Test ended in a stalemate.
Earlier, when Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul walked out on the fifth day, they became the 11th and 12th batters - and the first pair ever - to bat on all five days of a Test. The duo, however, did not last long on Wednesday.
Evans claimed his maiden Test wicket when he burst through the defences of Chanderpaul in the ninth over of the day. From around the wicket, he got one to jag one back into the left-hander, who played away from the body, as the ball took a thin inside edge and pegged back his middle stump. Soon after, Masakadza pinned Brathwaite in front for the second time in the Test.
Zimbabwe seemed to have an opening at that stage, and Craig Ervine employed funky fields to second-guess the West Indies batters. But Raymon Reifer and Blackwood remained solid. With the surface still playing largely true, the two played their shots regularly and with ease. Reifer was the more aggressive one and got his boundary counter running with a crisp cover drive off Masakadza.
Blackwood batted with a more defensive mindset and even failed to put away a few short deliveries early in his innings. He got his first boundary away via a bottom edge through the wicketkeeper's legs but soon gained confidence, slamming a six and four in the last over before lunch. Ervine rang in the changes but both Reifer and Blackwood seemed fairly comfortable at the crease as the two moved into lunch unbroken with West Indies 199 ahead.
The batters upped the scoring rate after the break, getting three fours in the first three overs. Reifer reached his maiden Test fifty with a hard pull through midwicket, while Blackwood soon got to his 17th soon after. The two also brought up the 100-run stand in quick time and it became apparent that West Indies were looking for a declaration at some point in the session.
Masakadza then removed both Reifer and Blackwood in quick succession before Evans had Chase nicking off to the wicketkeeper. The third umpire had to be called for with the on-field soft signal being not out. But, replays clearly suggested that the ball had taken the outside edge of Chase's bat while also hitting the ground simultaneously.
Kyle Mayers and Da Silva got a few boundaries away with West Indies declaring an hour into the second session and setting Zimbabwe 272 in 49 overs. Zimbabwe's openers came out to bat soon after the thick clouds that were building up brought some rain and stopped play. It turned out to be a delay of about 25 minutes as the players took an early tea in the interim and no overs were lost.
Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo