West Indies – 447-6 declared and 203-5 declared in 60 overs (Raymon Reifer 58, Jermaine Blackwood 57, Kraigg Brathwaite 25; Wellington Masakadza 3/71, Brad Evans 2/41)
Zimbabwe – 379-9 declared and 134-6 in 54 overs (Chamu Chibhabha 31, Innocent Kaia 24, Tafadzwa Tsiga 24*; Gudakesh Motie 4/50, Roston Chase 2/9)
In an exciting finish at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, the seventh-wicket pair of Tafadzwa Tsiga and Wellington Masakadza gallantly played out the final half-hour without losing their wickets to earn Zimbabwe a well-deserved draw in the first Test match against the West Indies on Wednesday.
The Caribbean side, after gaining a first-innings lead of 68 runs, began the final day’s play on 21 for no wicket, with Kraigg Brathwaite on 11 and Tagenarine Chanderpaul on 10.
The obvious course for them to follow appeared to be to push the score along quickly with a view to a declaration that would leave them as much time as they could to bowl Zimbabwe out, but the West Indies seemed to feel the need to make themselves more secure first.
The overnight pair took their partnership to 32 in as many as 22 overs before Chanderpaul was bowled by a ball from Brad Evans that came back on him slightly – he made 15 off 66 balls.
Brathwaite made 25 off 77 deliveries before Masakadza trapped him lbw on 50 for two in the 27th over.
Raymon Reifer, in next, was a little more positive, but it was Jermaine Blackwood who really began to liven things up with some good aggressive strokes.
They added 107 for the third wicket in 26 overs before Reifer, having reached a maiden Test fifty, checked a drive against Masakadza, who brought down a catch above his head.
He made 58 off 106 balls, with nine fours, and the score was 157 for three.
Blackwood followed him back to the pavilion four overs later, Masakadza’s third victim as he top-edged a cut to the wicket-keeper, Tsiga, having made an enterprising 57 off 84 balls, with a six and five fours.
Roston Chase scored 14 off 14 balls before he chased a ball from Evans outside his off stump and was also caught at the wicket.
Kyle Mayers (17 not out) and Joshua da Silva (nine not out) added a few before Brathwaite decided to declare with a score of 203 for five wickets.
This set Zimbabwe 272 to win in a minimum of 49 overs.
Masakadza claimed three wickets for 71 runs in this innings, while Evans took the other two to fall.
The Zimbabwe innings had just begun when a light shower of rain drove the players from the field, but an early tea was taken and no overs were lost.
When they returned, Tanu Makoni hit Kemar Roach for two boundaries in three balls, but in the fourth over the left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie lured him into driving at a delivery outside his off stump, and he edged a catch to da Silva behind the wicket for nine – 14 for one.
His opening partner, Innocent Kaia, was joined by Chamu Chibhabha and they both played positively without taking undue risks.
They took the score to 61 in the 18th over when Kaia (24) chipped a ball from Motie to midwicket, where Brathwaite safely held the catch.
Craig Ervine soon showed his intention to take charge at the crease, hitting Motie for two fours in his next over, although one was a miscue that went past the keeper.
However, the situation was one where careful defence and stability were desirable.
Chibhabha had played well for 31 until he pushed at a ball from Chase outside his off stump and was caught in the slips for 31 off 60 balls.
Then Ervine flicked at a ball from Motie that pitched in the rough, and edged it to the keeper to depart for 17 off 17 balls.
This left two new batters at the crease in Gary Ballance and Tsiga, and the West Indies had 26 overs left to take the last six wickets.
Fortunately, Ballance and Tsiga saw the need for prudence and applied themselves to the task diligently.
They batted through 19 overs together until Ballance, having scored a cautious 18 off 63 balls, was well caught down the leg side by the wicketkeeper off Chase to make the score 119 for five in the 43rd over.
With only a single added, the new man, Evans, expecting a spinner from Motie, was trapped lbw by a straight ball – 120 for six.
The West Indies had bustled through their overs much more quickly than usual once they knew they could not lose, and there were still about 15 minutes available when 49 overs had been completed.
Tsiga and Masakadza had to battle for survival, and this they did with wonderful single-minded determination.
They batted out the last 10 overs of the match with no dismissal, frustrating the tourists as they pressed hard for victory.
Tsiga finished with 24 not out off 83 balls in almost an hour and three-quarters, while Masakadza batted for the last half-hour without scoring – but runs were then of no importance.
Survival was all that counted, and they did so admirably.
Motie was the West Indies’ key bowler, bowling 24 of the 54 overs delivered in the innings, and taking four wickets for 50.
But he was unable to separate the Zimbabwe heroes of the day, Tsiga and Masakadza.