It is often said that one needs to invest and show immense faith in a wrist spinner in order to get the best out of him. They are wicket-taking options and can wreak havoc if the conditions assist. A leg-spinner is an attacking option and often reaps fruitful results. Devendra Bishoo, on this occasion, weaved magic with the ball in the first Test against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo and helped his side wrestle back into the game.
West Indies were placed in hot water at stumps on Day 1 with just 219 runs on the board and Zimbabwe looking determined on 19 for no loss. Zimbabwe did extremely well in restricting the Caribbean side to 219. Graeme Cremer and Sean Williams hunted in pair and accounted for seven wickets between; the duo made utmost use of the bowling conditions to put Zimbabwe in command. Williams, being a part-timer, chipped in with three wickets, which only added pressure on the West Indies as even they had only one specialist spinner in the attack.
West Indies always had an advantage with Bishoo’s presence in the side, but the wily leg-spinner had an ordinary run in England and lacked form. This game was an ideal platform for Bishoo to rediscover his mojo and help his side bounce back. The pitch assisted Cremer, the leg-spinner, in the first innings and all eyes were set on Bishoo in the second.
— ian bishop (@irbishi) October 22, 2017
When Day 2 started, many anticipated Zimbabwe to overhaul Zimbabwe’s total and gain a decent lead as they had the batting to do so. Kemar Roach did well in getting rid of Solomon Mire in the morning session, but Zimbabwe rebuilt. They were well placed at 91 for 1 when Bishoo broke the partnership and provided West Indies the much-needed breakthrough. Bishoo pitched it full on the off stump and drew Hamilton Masakadza forward, the ball turned and kissed the batsman’s willow, which was taken by Shane Dowrich at slip.
Zimbabwe’s most impactful batsman Brendan Taylor was making a return to international cricket and walked in to bat at 4. But his innings was ended by Bishoo for a solitary run. Taylor went for a reverse paddle sweep, but some incredible presence of mind by Jermaine Blackwood helped him anticipate the mistimed shot and cup a fantastic catch.
West Indies couldn’t have relied solely on Bishoo to deliver and needed other bowlers to step up. Roach did well in getting an early breakthrough and then chipped in with the key wicket of Sean Williams with some reverse swing. At 110 for 4, Zimbabwe were clearly swimming in troubled waters and the responsibility to sail it out was on Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza.
Raza is well-known for his belligerence and tried to break the shackles by taking on Bishoo. He flighted the ball, which tempted Raza as he went for a big stroke, but mistimed it only to be caught by Shannon Gabriel. Ervine looked good and was battling it out for Zimbabwe. Moments later, the southpaw failed to make any connection while executing a sweep and was trapped leg before by Bishoo and the Zimbabwe tail was wide open.
At 133 for 6, Zimbabwe’s hope of getting closer to West Indies’ total was shattered and they hardly had any batting left. Bishoo ripped through the middle-order in no time and put his side on the front. But, the job was not done yet. Skipper Jason Holder chipped in with the wicket of Malcom Waller.
Regis Chakabva was batting on 12, when he was surprised with some bounce while playing a cut shot off Bishoo. The ball took a healthy top-edge and was cupped by Roston Chase at point. Bishoo had five scalps to his name and did what was expected out of him. He finished with figures of 5 for 79 after being smashed for a six on his very first ball of the second day. Not many thought West Indies to gain a lead in the first innings after having just 219 runs on the board, but Bishoo made it possible.
Devendra Bishoo has five wickets as West Indies fight back brilliantly at Bulawayo! #ZIMvWI
— ICC (@ICC) October 22, 2017
Bishoo bowled a marathon spell and never looked short of rhythm and confidence. At one stage, Zimbabwe looked well set for a competitive total, but Bishoo made the difference and wreaked havoc once he found his line and length. He got the ball to turn and was up to the mark with his accuracy. Zimbabwe were undone for 159 and West Indies’ bowlers did well, especially Bishoo.
West Indies are now in command in the second innings and now have gained a 148-run lead already. They will certainly set a competitive target for the hosts to chase in the fourth innings and Bishoo will once again have a crucial role to play as the pitch will offer a lot of turn.