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'Pitch was better than we thought' - Cremer

The Zimbabwe captain said his side could have made a sporting declaration but "it was probably not a wicket where you can bowl a side out in 30 overs"

Sikandar Raza leaps to celebrate his hundred, Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, only Test, 4th day, Colombo, July 17, 2017

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Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer said his team was "quite happy with a draw" in the second Test match against West Indies in Bulawayo, and any thoughts of a sporting declaration were shelved after Sikandar Raza was bowled by Jason Holder for 89 shortly after lunch on the fifth afternoon.
"It's disappointing to lose a Test series, but we were behind for a lot of this Test match, so credit to the guys for fighting," Cremer said. "We were quite happy with a draw in the end, and we didn't feel we had quite enough runs to declare. And it's probably not a wicket where you can bowl a side out in 30 overs.
"There were thoughts of a declaration, but we know it's quite hard to take 10 wickets in 50 overs, let alone 30, so after Raza got out we almost had to shut up shop there and just take overs out of the game to make sure we couldn't lose the Test match."
Zimbabwe might have been more tempted to bowl a second time on the final day if the pitch had dusted up and deteriorated as much as expected. As it turned out, there seemed to be more turn on the first two days than the last three, and though there was some inconsistent bounce the pitch became more and more placid.
"The pitch definitely held together more than we thought it would," Cremer said. "It started keeping a bit low, but it didn't do as much as we thought it might on day five."
Despite losing the series 1-0, both Cremer and Zimbabwe coach Heath Streak were pleased with the individual performances and the improvement shown to draw the second Test.
"The more you play, the more you realize how much time there is in a Test match," Cremer said. "In the first Test, we were a little too aggressive, and didn't back our defence against spin. But we got better, as we saw in this Test match. It is a learning curve, hopefully we'll take this experience into the [Boxing Day] South Africa Test match.
"All in all, lots of positives," Streak added. "Raza did well, Chakabva came through today. Hamilton Masakadza got a big hundred. Kyle Jarvis was outstanding in the first Test. Chris Mpofu with the ball, and with the bat."
Regis Chakabva spilled a couple of chances with the gloves but came back with the bat to help Zimbabwe battle to a draw. "It was a tough wicket to keep on, and especially Graeme and (Tendai) Chisoro have a lot of variations," Streak said. "TC bowls quickly, Graeme's got googlies and stuff. With the wicket being up and down and turning so much, it's tough to sustain [wicketkeeping] over a lengthy period.
"The grit he showed today, and the composure and determination to stick it out was exemplary. Hopefully we can build on that. Lance Klusener spoke to him about trusting his game, trusting his defence, trusting his attacking shots and not trying to play in fast forward. He had a really good game and hopefully he can continue to build on that."
Zimbabwe missed Kyle Jarvis in the second match to ankle injury, and chose an attack heavily weighted towards spin. However, Streak was confident he would have more fast bowling options to choose from for Zimbabwe's next Test engagement, against South Africa on Boxing Day.
"We'll hopefully have a few more guys available to us," Streak said. "Carl Mumba has been out, I'm not sure where he'll be by then. We've got guys performing well, like Richard Ngarava. Tendai Chatara was injured so he wasn't really in consideration here, but hopefully he'll be back in consideration for that Test series. We know what he's capable of. Brian Vitori is also due to do his re-test [of his bowling action]. So we should have more options at that time."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town