1st Test

West Indies v Zimbabwe, 2012-13

Tony Cozier

At Bridgetown, Barbados, March 12-14, 2013. West Indies won by nine wickets. Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debut: T. L. Chatara.

Darren Sammy pulls, West Indies v Zimbabwe, 1st Test, Barbados, 2nd day, March 13, 2013
Darren Sammy steadies West Indies' innings when there was a threat of a wobble © WICB Media Photo/Randy Brooks
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This was only Zimbabwe's fifth Test since returning from exile in August 2011, and their first since losing to New Zealand by an innings and 301 runs at Napier almost 14 months previously. As in the preceding limited-overs matches, the effect of such inactivity was obvious. Twice they were in promising positions: they reached 100 for two on the opening day, and later removed West Indies' top six for 151. But Zimbabwe could not exploit either situation. Their last six first-innings wickets tumbled for 76, while West Indies emerged from their own batting troubles thanks to a vigorous partnership of 106 between Ramdin and Sammy.

The inviting look of a bare, beige surface had persuaded Taylor to bat first. Roach broke through Sibanda's on-drive to hit leg stump, and Samuels's left hand fastened on to Masakadza's thick edge inches from the grass at gully. Mawoyo and Taylor progressed confidently into the afternoon but, once Mawoyo became the first of Shillingford's bat-pad victims after an attractive 50, the innings subsided. Gabriel beat Taylor for pace, then Shillingford combined with fellow off-spinner Samuels to scatter the Zimbabweans.

Jarvis, swinging the ball at a decent pace, cheered them up before the close, despatching Powell and nightwatchman Roach, first ball, to what was in fact the seventh delivery of the seventh over. West Indies faltered again next day, losing four wickets to leave the contest evenly balanced. Jarvis had both Bravo and Chanderpaul caught behind, while fast bowler Tendai Chatara - a late replacement for the injured Christopher Mpofu - claimed a distinguished first Test scalp when Gayle stabbed a lifter to slip. After enthralling the 1,500 spectators with the stylish strokeplay that characterised his annus mirabilis of 2012, Samuels played a lazy drive at Masakadza's medium-pace shortly before lunch.

But West Indies regained control through Sammy's calculated aggression, with Ramdin in support - though they were helped by Taylor's prolonged trust in the leg-spin of Cremer. Sammy lashed four sixes in five overs off him and, when he eventually played on to Masakadza, had faced only 69 balls for his 73. Ramdin was more sedate, before he was ninth out after three hours at the crease.

Trailing by 96, Zimbabwe were undone by off-spin for a second time. Shillingford, preferred to Sunil Narine for his first Test since the previous May in England, gained bounce from his height, and purchase from the pitch for match figures of nine for 107. Five were pouched by the ever-present close catchers on the leg side. Samuels's four wickets in the first innings, starting with one from his first ball, were his best return in international cricket; he wasn't required in the second.

Zimbabwe's spirit was undermined as the top three fell in the last seven overs of the second day. Mawoyo edged Gabriel to slip, then Shillingford removed Masakadza with his first delivery and Sibanda with his tenth. Next morning he added four more, and Gabriel completed the rout. The only resistance came from the left-hander Ervine. The umpires allowed West Indies to bat for three overs into the designated lunch break to knock off the dozen runs required for victory. But they couldn't manage it after Powell was out cheaply for the second time, and had to wait until after their meal for the three still needed.

Man of the Match: S. Shillingford. Close of play: first day, West Indies 18-2 (Gayle 11, Bravo 0);
second day, Zimbabwe 41-3 (Price 7, Taylor 0).

© John Wisden & Co.