West Indians 404 for 5 dec and 343 for 6 (Samuels 147, Ganga 69*) drew with Zimbabwe A 242 and 246 for 9 (Evans 59, Taylor 6 for 58)
A devastating spell of reverse-swing bowling by Jerome Taylor almost brought the West Indian tourists an unexpected victory over Zimbabwe A after the match had looked dead and buried at tea, but the determination of Gavin Ewing, dropped from the Test team, denied them at the death. Zimbabwe A finished with 247 for 9.
Despite their lead of 408, the West Indians decided on more batting practice on the final morning, presumably for the benefit of Daren Ganga, 25 overnight after a century in the first innings. This decision was to cost them a chance of victory. Ganga and Marlon Samuels found it easy going until Samuels drove a ball from Stuart Matsikenyeri down the throat of long-on to depart for 147. The declaration came at drinks, with Ganga unbeaten on 69 and the target a token 506.
The lbw curse soon struck Zimbabwe A again, with Vusi Sibanda adjudged in front to Taylor for 4, with the total on 9. Then came a long period of attrition as Dion Ebrahim and Craig Evans, both playing for their Test places, dug in and withstood the West Indian assault. Ebrahim finally fell in mid-afternoon for 41, caught off bat and pad off the bowling of Ramnaresh Sarwan, but Evans reached his fifty. He clearly set his eyes on a century, playing safe instead of employing his usual buccaneering style and penchant for massive sixes, especially when the spinners were bowling.
By tea it seemed as if the West Indians had accepted that the match was meandering towards a draw, with a score of 132 for 2. However, Taylor returned immediately after tea and his first ball kept low to shatter Evans's stumps with a ball that kept slightly low, bowling him out for 59. After a four and two singles off the next three balls, Taylor gave the same treatment to Matsikenyeri, bowled for 5. Two overs later, it was the unfortunate Elton Chigumbura's turn, yorked by Taylor to complete a pair.
Travis Friend scored just 4 before being caught at bat-pad, again off Taylor, who had now taken four wickets in four overs since tea, and Zimbabwe A were 157 for 6. Drakes in the first innings and now Taylor had shattered the middle order with their sharp reverse swing, a problem that the top players will need to confront in the Test next week.
Barney Rogers, like Matsikenyeri in the first innings, stood firm through it all and appeared to bat without undue difficulty. But he fell just as he appeared to be making the match secure, driving uppishly at Drakes and being caught low down at short extra cover for 45.
The last hour began with the West Indians needing three more wickets to win the match. Alester Maregwede (5) became another lbw victim as Taylor returned, but Gavin Ewing, who clearly felt he had a message for the national selectors, and Blessing Mahwire were determined not to give in easily. At this point the West Indians began to show boredom in the field and indulged in some quite ridiculous and pointless time-wasting - a problem which the ICC still does not have the guts to tackle effectively.
Mahwire (10) fell to a slip catch by substitute Brian Lara in the penultimate over, bowled by Drakes, but Ewing, unbeaten with 42, played out the final over from Ravi Rampaul to ensure the draw. Taylor finished with six wickets.