Zimbabwe enjoyed much the best day of the First Test against India at the Queen's Sports Club in Bulawayo, batting throughout the third day to finish on 303 for seven. The main contributors, as so often for Zimbabwe, were the Flower brothers, Andy and Grant, who both scored determined fifties, as did Stuart Carlisle.
Night-watchman Brian Murphy did not last long into the morning session, out to a fine diving catch by Shiv Sunder Das at short leg for his overnight 10 off Zahir Khan, who had just received his second warning for running on the danger area of the pitch. Ashish Nehra, another left-armer, bowling over the wicket, was also to receive a second warning later.
Carlisle, although beaten occasionally, played some good strokes, especially drives and cuts, and it was a fine drive through extra cover that brought him his fourth Test fifty. His highest is 58, and once again he failed to reach 60. When 52, he played back loosely to Nehra and was caught at second slip. Zimbabwe were still 21 behind with half their wickets gone.
Once again the Flower brothers were together with almost everything depending on them. Andy Flower was playing far more typically than he did in the first innings, choosing his deliveries carefully and waiting for the bad ball to put it away unerringly. At lunch Zimbabwe were 143 for five, still two runs in arrears.
A reverse sweep for four by Andy Flower off Harbhajan Singh in the latter's first over after lunch took Zimbabwe into the lead. It was not long before a similar stroke brought up his ninth fifty in ten Test innings. It was the ninth time in 12 Test innings against India that Andy has passed 50. Only once have India been able to dismiss him for less (when he made 30) as on the other two occasions he was not out.
India strove in vain to break the fraternal partnership until the second new ball was due in the last over before tea. Once again the brothers proved how they have been the backbone of Zimbabwe's batting during the country's nine-year Test history. At the interval Zimbabwe were 230 for five, 85 runs ahead.
Andy Flower disappointed in the first over after tea. He slashed at Nehra and the thick edge just cleared the slips and went to the boundary. Off the very next ball, he failed to profit from the warning and sliced a hard catch into the slips where Sadagoppan Ramesh took it very well. He scored 83, another fine innings, but must have been disappointed to give his wicket away through the basic error of failing to play himself in again after an interval, and immediately after receiving a warning the previous ball. He also missed the chance of recording his tenth Test century. The brothers had put on 101 runs together, and neutralized the threat of Harbhajan very effectively.
Heath Streak almost immediately had the benefit of a very close lbw appeal against Nehra, but survived to fight again. Grant Flower reached his fifty, a fine effort after some trouble early on. Streak (14) played inside a ball from Zahir Khan to be out lbw; at this point, with only the inexperienced Andy Blignaut and two tail-enders to partner Flower, Zimbabwe were only 128 ahead.
Shortly afterwards umpire Harper bit the bullet and removed Nehra from the attack, after two previous warnings from umpire Tiffin at the other end for persistently running on the danger area of the pitch. Blignaut, initially very nervous, gradually settled in and gave occasional evidence of the powerful hits for which he is renowned in domestic cricket. Flower seemed to go into his shell, playing for the close, which ended due to bad light `only' 30 minutes after the scheduled close with two overs unbowled. Flower had 67 and Blignaut 11.