West Indians 404 for 5 dec and 246 for 5 (Samuels 109*, Ganga 25*) lead Zimbabwe A 242 by 408 runs
The West Indians dominated the second day of their match against Zimbabwe A, finishing the day 408 runs ahead with five second-innings wickets in hand. The highlights of the day were impressive pace bowling by Vasbert Drakes and Jerome Taylor, and an easily compiled century from Marlon Samuels.
In the morning Dion Ebrahim and Vusi Sibanda looked set to continue their good work of the previous evening against the fast bowlers, until Ebrahim, like his opposing captain, was beaten by a ball that kept low, and was adjudged lbw for 14. Ebrahim and Sibanda had added 45.
Sibanda played some handsome drives down the ground and appeared to be learning quickly the art of building an innings, hitherto a major handicap to his development. He pulled Taylor for a superb six over midwicket, and then a powerful on-drive to the boundary, off the same bowler, brought him his fifty made off 78 balls. But shortly after, he fell on his face trying to chop down on a yorker from Taylor and became the third batsman to fall victim to an umpire's trigger finger, out for 51.
Barney Rogers and Stuart Matsikenyeri consolidated with a partnership of 96, with Matsikenyeri the more aggressive. Then Drakes broke through the middle order spectacularly, exploiting reverse swing with the old ball. First he knocked Rogers' off stump out of the ground to dismiss him for 35, and three balls later bowled 17-year-old Elton Chigumbura for 0. Zimbabwe A were 187 for 5, with 68 short of avoiding the follow-on.
This did not trouble the confident Matsikenyeri, who off-drove a boundary to reach his fifty, to the delight of his home crowd. But Travis Friend (4), playing well forward to Drakes, became the fourth lbw victim, and then Alester Maregwede (0) was bowled shouldering arms. Gavin Ewing, in at No. 9 despite going to Australia on a career batting average of over 50, was yorked for 4 by Taylor, who was finally giving Drakes a break after nine overs in the heat of the day.
Taylor soon struck again, outdoing Drakes by knocking two of Blessing Mahwire's stumps out of the ground, bowling him for 2. Finally, Jordane Nicolle (3) was caught at the wicket off Chris Gayle, the first time a fielder had a hand in a dismissal during the innings. The total was 242, leaving Matsikenyeri not out with 84. He never looked in trouble against the swinging ball and could well have played himself into the Test team with this excellent innings.
The West Indian fast bowlers stole the show, though, with Taylor taking 4 for 46 and Drakes finishing with 5 for 66. Rampaul showed real pace but was expensive. Although they had a lead of 162, the tourists chose batting practice ahead of enforcing the follow-on.
Mahwire struck early, winning an lbw decision against Chris Gayle, who departed for 12, having lashed three boundaries off his previous six balls. Thus encouraged, Mahwire produced a superb swinging ball that totally flummoxed Wavell Hinds and knocked out his off stump for 9. The West Indians were 36 for 2.
Carlton Baugh, promoted after failing to get a bat first time round, hit a bright 44, with 10 boundaries, off just 30 balls before snicking Nicolle to the keeper. The sixth lbw of the day - umpire Tapfumaneyi's fourth - was Ramnaresh Sarwan to Nicolle for a rather laboured 10. In contrast, Marlon Samuels looked quite at ease, stroking the ball sweetly, helped once again by the failure of Ebrahim to protect his boundaries adequately.
The West Indians were in a festive mood, and Ridley Jacobs had a big swing to be bowled by Ewing for 26 off 19 balls. Daren Ganga replaced him and boundaries came with monotonous regularity. Ewing failed to trouble the batsmen on a pitch that should have given him some help, and he did his Test chances little good in this game.
Samuels achieved the rare feat of a century in a session, scored off 98 balls, particularly notable since it took almost an hour for him to get to the wicket.