Kieran Kieran Powell was 43 not out at stumps after staging a 76-run stand for the first wicket with Kraigg Brathwaite. © WICB

Kieran Powell was 43 not out at stumps after staging a 76-run stand for the first wicket with Kraigg Brathwaite. © WICB

Graeme Cremer, the Zimbabwe captain, struck late on the second evening to end a Windies opening stand that lasted 46 overs but realised only 76 runs to bring his side back into the game in the second and final Test at Bulawayo’s Queens Sports Club on Monday (October 30).

Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell walked out around an hour after lunch after Zimbabwe’s first innings had ended on 326 and they played on till just before the end of the day to grind their side to a position of strength at 78 for 1.

“There are a lot of runs in that wicket. The new ball hasn’t been doing much – no major bounce or seam movement. Once the guys settle and put their heads down to bat, I think we’ll be fine.” – Kemar Roach

Just when it seemed that the two openers would take Windies to close of play without any damage, Cremer sent in a quick, flat delivery that Brathwaite edged to Hamilton Masakadza at slip off the back foot.

It ended the first Windies opening partnership to cross 50 in 18 innings after Brathwaite and Powell adopted a very patient approach on a slow, turning pitch.

Brathwaite hit just two boundaries in his 32, scored off 160 balls, while Powell, who continued alongside Devendra Bishoo, the night watchman, ended the day on 43, his runs coming only slightly quicker than Brathwaite’s, off 123 balls with four hits to the fence.

Earlier, Masakadza and Sikandar Raza did well to take Zimbabwe to a decent position. They started the day on 101 and nine respectively, with their team at 169 for 4, and went on to add 90 runs together before Masakadza was dismissed for an excellent 147.

“Considering the number of overs we’ve bowled, the run rate is a bit slow, even for Test cricket. So if you add two wickets on to that score, it’s a different ball game.” – Tendai Chisoro

Things went a bit awry for Zimbabwe when Masakadza top-edged a sweep off Bishoo and lobbed the ball up in the air for Shane Dowrich to take a simple catch, and Malcolm Waller and Regis Chakabva followed suit, becoming Bishoo’s 100th Test wicket.

That left Zimbabwe at 267 for 7, but Raza stabilised the innings again alongside Cremer.

Once Windies took the new ball, though, the Zimbabwe resistance ended. Raza was caught by Kyle Hope in the slips off Shannon Gabriel for 80, scored off 147 balls with six fours and a six, while Cremer was run out for 11 and Tendai Chisoro, the debutant, was trapped lbw by Kemar Roach, who finished with 3 for 44. Gabriel and Bishoo had two wickets apiece.

Windies lead the series 1-0 after winning the first Test, also played at the same venue, by 117 runs.