sportsmarlonsamuelstookfourwicketsKyle Jarvis’ double strike gave Zimbabwe a late boost after they had been bowled out for 211 on the opening day of the first Test against West Indies at Kensington Oval today.

Seamer Jarvis dismissed opener Kieran Powell and nightwatchman Kemar Roach, both through lbw decisions, with successive deliveries as the hosts limped to 18 for 2 by the close of play.

Chris Gayle finished up unbeaten on 11 with Darren Bravo yet to get off the mark, meaning West Indies resume tomorrow trailing by 193 runs.

Although losing two late wickets was a disappointment, with Denesh Ramdin batting as high as number six, West Indies still find themselves in the driving seat thanks to the efforts of their off-spin duo of Marlon Samuels (4 for 13) and Shane Shillingford (3 for 58).

Opening bowlers Roach and Tino Best bowled with so much intensity they might have run through Zimbabwe by themselves on a luckier day. But, led by the plucky Tino Mawoyo, Zimbabwe took blows, got beaten, edged and stonewalled their way through the first hour before frittering away hard-earned starts on a largely docile Kensington Oval pitch.

Mawoyo started the downfall after lunch when he lunged forward to defend a Shillingford offbreak that bounced to take the inside edge onto pad and lob to short leg. Brendan Taylor tried to turn a Shannon Gabriel delivery with the angle to leg but it moved away late and flattened his off stump. Just before tea, Craig Ervine pushed forward to a straight Samuels delivery and left a fatally big gap between bat and pad.

After trying to rebuild the innings from 158 for 6, Graeme Cremer slashed a wide Samuels delivery to point. Regis Chakabva blocked, ducked and left to plod to 15 off 92 balls before pushing Shillingford to short leg. All these batsmen promised a lot, and barring Mawoyo to an extent, delivered little.Zimbabwe had fared much better against a much sterner examination in the first session. First ball of the match, Roach hit Mawoyo on the chest with a short ball, showing immediately what awaited Zimbabwe. However, Mawoyo showed there were runs to be reaped on the pitch following self-denial.

For the first ten overs, though, there wasn’t much to be done apart from denying oneself, playing with soft hands and hoping for survival. There was movement in the air, but most of it only gave the wicketkeeper a rough time. There was some seam movement, but it was sheer, raw pace and testing lines and lengths that bothered Zimbabwe. Roach began with a barrage of short deliveries and Best, as always, held nothing back in terms of effort.

Leg stump uprooted

The last ball of Roach’s fourth over proved too quick for Sibanda, and he had his leg stump uprooted through the gate. Best was running in so hard he soon appeared to pull something, and sat on his haunches a couple of times during his fifth over. That didn’t deter him from smacking Hamilton Masakadza on the back edge of his helmet.

That was to be the last of Best in the session, with the third specialist quick bowler Gabriel and the captain Darren Sammy taking over. While Gabriel was not lacking in pace in comparison to Best and Roach, he got next to no movement, and also offered width.

Sammy did what he does, settling on a good length outside off stump, but Mawoyo and Masakadza were disciplined enough not to be tempted. It took Roach, returning in the 21st over, to break the growing second-wicket stand, although Samuels’ diving effort at gully deserved as much, if not more credit, for getting rid of Masakadza.

Sammy persisted with himself from the other end after the breakthrough, and it allowed Mawoyo and Taylor some breathing space. Mawoyo started opening up as lunch approached, driving confidently off the front foot and even slashing Roach over the slip cordon. Zimbabwe had exceeded expectations with a first-session return of 91 for 2, but were to disappoint soon.

Shillingford found bounce right away, and in his second over after lunch, took out Mawoyo. Gabriel hadn’t been able to get the new ball to do much, but started getting some reverse as it got older, and surprised Taylor in the first over of his second spell.

Malcolm Waller never looked comfortable and was beaten repeatedly by Gabriel before being given leg-before trying to paddle Shillingford. Chakabva and Cremer hung around for a while, before Samuels ran through the lower order to take his best figures in international cricket. Zimbabwe had two specialist spinners in their XI, and Samuels’ and Shillingford’s showing would have given them hope of containing West Indies.

It was Jarvis’ pace and swing, though, that gave them a couple of early wickets. West Indies had 11 overs to get through. Gayle and Powell had nearly got through seven of them without any alarms before Jarvis moved one in to catch Powell in front of leg, and the batsman had to walk back after a failed review. That was to have been the last ball of the over, but Jarvis was allowed to bowl a seventh, and trapped nightwatchman Roach plumb in front with a full, away-swinging delivery. After not making Gayle and Powell play much, Jarvis had suddenly found the right line. (Cricinfo)††

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