Hamilton Masakadza struck a masterly century as Zimbabwe recovered from a woeful start to finish the rain-shortened opening day of this second Test against the Windies at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo with 169 runs for the loss of four wickets.
It was the kind of knock the home side desperately needed after Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel had razed through the top order, dismissing Solomon Mire, Craig Ervine and Brendan Taylor with only a total of 14 runs on the board.
Masakadza and Peter Moor, who scored a brilliant fifty, however managed to weather the storm as the duo mustered a 142-run partnership that brought Zimbabwe back into the game.
Under overcast skies on an unusually wintry morning, Graeme Cremer won the toss and opted to bat first.
Zimbabwe made two changes to the side that lost the first Test, with Moor and debutant Tendai Chisoro coming in for Sean Williams, who was unwell, and Kyle Jarvis, nursing an ankle injury.
The Windies, who fielded an unchanged side, enjoyed a bright start to the match when Roach had Mire caught behind for four – the only runs the hosts had on the board – in the fourth over.
Craig Ervine came in next but was dismissed before he could get off the mark, having faced seven balls, when Gabriel tore through his defence to break the middle stump in half; 11 for two in the seventh over.
Zimbabwe then lurched from bad to worse when Brendan Taylor, with a single run, deflected a Roach delivery onto his stumps and that meant the home side had lost three wickets, with only 14 runs on the board.
The carnage could have continued 11 balls later when Masakadza looked to hook a bouncer from Gabriel but the ball deflected off the inside edge onto his shoulder and was caught at gully – the umpire did not give it out.
The Windies asked for a review and Masakadza was already walking out when the replays showed that Gabriel had over-stepped – so it was a no-ball and Zimbabwe had survived a big scare.
After that reprieve, Masakadza and Moor slowly gained composure, bringing up the team fifty shortly before lunch.
The duo continued the recovery job steadily after the break, leaving the good balls and punishing the bad ones, and Masakadza soon reached his eighth Test fifty, with five fours and crafted off 96 balls.
At tea Zimbabwe were on 147 for three – Masakadza had 93* and Moor 47*.
The remarkable recovery continued with Moor squeezing the ball gently through the covers for a boundary that brought up his third Test fifty, which included three fours and came off 148 deliveries.
After reaching his milestone, Moor however failed to add another run to his 52 when he was bowled by Roston Chase to break the massive partnership that had added 142 runs and lifted Zimbabwe from 14 for three.
Masakadza soon converted, driving a single to long-on to reach his fifth Test century – he clobbered nine fours and two sixes on his way to the brilliant hundred that came off 170 deliveries.
After that, only one more over was possible before it started drizzling and the covers had to be brought on.
At 1645 hours, play was called off.
Masakadza was still standing on 101 while his new partner, Sikandar Raza, had nine.
Play is set to resume at 0930 hours tomorrow.