After a disheartening defeat in the first Test, the onus of making a comeback was on Zimbabwe. Despite losing the series opener, Zimbabwe had a lot of positives to take, but the final Test demanded them to come out all guns blazing. West Indies have been gaining momentum with every outing and were always going to be a tough nut to crack for the Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe had the toss going their way and decided to bat first, but things didn’t turn out as planned. After losing three early wickets, Zimbabwe were staring down the barrel at 14 for 3. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel combined well to get West Indies off to a flying start. Solomon Mire, Brendan Taylor and Craig Ervine perished early as Zimbabwe were in dire need of a magical innings or a big partnership to be rescued.
Hamilton Masakadza stood his ground at one end while three wickets fell at the other end. He was fortunate enough early on in the innings, but did well in making the most of it. He was caught off a bouncer, but the replay suggested that Gabriel had overstepped. Masakadza made the utmost use of this and went in to score his second highest Test score. This was also his fifth Test hundred, which rekindled memories of his Test debut back in 2001 against the same opposition.
— ICC (@ICC) October 29, 2017
On getting a reprieve, Masakadza narrated the whole incident beautifully. He was walking off the field only to be recalled as the bowler had overstepped. He was quoted in a report from Cricbuzz saying, “The boys were laughing at me in the change rooms for that.”
“As it hit me, when it looped up I said to myself: ‘Please don’t carry’. When I saw it carry to the fielder I said to myself: ‘Please don’t give it.’ When they didn’t give it, I was saying: ‘Please don’t review’. And then when they reviewed I thought, ‘Ah, ja, they’re obviously going to see it on TV I might as well go’.”
Zimbabwe were in dire need of a partnership, they needed the veteran to step up and sail the ship out of choppy waters. Masakadza and Peter Moor bid their time and stitched a much-needed partnership of 142 runs. At 14 for 3, Zimbabwe’s chances of reaching the 200-run mark were bleak, but the duo ensured they laid a solid foundation.
— Firdose Moonda (@FirdoseM) October 29, 2017
After losing three early wickets, it was mandatory for Zimbabwe to win the small battles first. Both the batsmen needed to get their eyes in, get used to the conditions and play out the new ball. They did that and by Lunch, Zimbabwe were steady at 56 for 3. Masakadza and Moor kept fighting and did well to survive against the pumped West Indies’ bowlers.
Masakadza capitalised on loose deliveries and batted well in the second session, where Zimbabwe didn’t lose a single wicket. Moor was dismissed in the final session, but Masakadza looked solid. He continued his good run and recorded his fifth Test ton after which, the rain stopped play. Zimbabwe were now in a good position at 169 for 4, with a firing Masakadza at the crease.
Masakadza had a good run in the first Test as well, but didn’t manage to convert into big hundreds. He scored a tenacious 42 in the first innings and a fighting 57 in second. He needed to convert and make the most of a solid start, which he did.
On his conversion, Masakadza was quoted by ESPNCricinfo after the end of Day 1 saying, “It was great to manage to convert. I had been thinking about those starts (in the previous Test), and I was hoping that if I did get another start I would push through. I’m happy to still be out there.”
Zimbabwe were although in a good position after being three down for 14, but needed a lot of runs to put pressure on West Indies on Day 2. Masakadza looked determined while Sikandar Raza showed good signs. Zimbabwe needed these two to score and build another partnership.
— ICC (@ICC) October 29, 2017
Masakadza spoke about his plans on Day 2 and the total Zimbabwe were looking for. “I’ll try and build another partnership with Raza and see how deep we can take it. It’s going to be very important to get whatever amount of runs we can get in the first innings, so without looking too far ahead I think anything over 350 will be good for us. I think it is still going to turn, much like the last Test, so it’s going to be very important to score big in the first innings,” Masakadza was quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
Masakadza started Day 2 where he left from, driving the first ball off the day for a boundary. He was in good touch and needed to rebuild with Raza at the other end. Masakadza played some eye-pleasing strokes and timed the ball really well. He improvised and kept the scoreboard ticking. The duo accounted for 90 runs between them after which, Masakadza fell for 147. A flighted delivery from Devendra Bishoo got a top-edge off Masakadza’s willow as he attempted a sweep.
Masakadza’s marathon innings contained 16 boundaries and two sixes. Zimbabwe were 246 for 5 when Masakadza took the long walk back to the pavilion. Not many anticipated them to be at this stage after losing wickets in heap at the start. They could now aim for a total close to 350, which will certainly give their bowlers a solid chance.