A meandering Test match ran out of room to flow on the fifth afternoon, as Zimbabwe and Windies effectively laid down their ambitions in the final hours and settled for a draw. While the lack of urgency from both sides over the second half of the fifth day disappointed anyone who had followed an absorbing, well-matched Test closely, it was understandable given the context.
For four and a half days, both sides had engaged in a ground battle that was being conducted in treacle. With the Queens Sports Club pitch exceedingly slow, every meaningful motion – be it scoring runs or taking wickets – took exaggerated effort.
By the time the two teams shook hands on Thursday afternoon (November 2), with Zimbabwe 301 for 7 in their second innings, just 27 wickets had fallen with 1075 runs scored in 431.3 overs. That translated to a hard-earned wicket every 16 overs, or just 2.49 runs per over.
Given conditions that did not make for attractive cricket, both teams deserved credit for producing a match that retained the interest with a number of twists and turns. The final day had a few of its own, starting in the fourth over when Peter Moor’s patient knock was ended. Zimbabwe had added just four runs to their overnight total of 140 for 4 when he edged Shannon Gabriel low to gully and was well caught for 42.
When Malcolm Waller (15) once again flattered to deceive, starting swiftly before fending a delivery from Devendra Bishoo to slip, Zimbabwe were 172 for six and leading by just 50 runs. The second new ball was also due, and Sikandar Raza was requiring attention from the physio.
The allrounder fought on though, taking Zimbabwe past lunch as he became just the second player in Test history to make two scores of 80 or more and take five wickets in a match. But he was denied a deserved century when he was bowled by a vicious inswinger from Jason Holder for 89.
Raza would ultimately receive consolation in the form of the man of the match award, but the exploits of the batsmen who followed would have been equally pleasing. Regis Chakabva had endured a difficult series with the bat and struggled with the gloves in this Test, but he put his head down and captain Graeme Cremer found the doggedness that his batting became known for last year.
There were still 64 overs left in the day when the pair came together and Zimbabwe were just 88 runs ahead, but their stubborn resistance made the game safe. There was some fortune, with Chakabva dropped on 27 off the bowling of Bishoo, and Cremer fortunate to survive a shout for caught behind off Holder after the seamer found the glove.
The hosts led by 137 when the Tea break rolled around, leading to questions of whether they might look for quick runs after the break and attempt to make something happen. But they had no such ambitions, with Chakabva and Cremer extending their partnership to 91 from almost 50 overs before the two captains shook hands.
The reward for Zimbabwe was their first draw since 2005, and two ratings points on the ICC’s rankings table. They previously had none at all, but still have a gap of 70 points to the team above them. Meanwhile the West Indies will climb above Bangladesh into eighth.
Zimbabwe 326 (Hamilton Masakadza 147, Sikandar Raza 80, Peter Moor 52; Kemar Roach 3-44, Shannon Gabriel 2-64) and 301/7 (Sikandar Raza 89, Regis Chakabva 71; Shannon Gabriel 2-34)
Windies 448 (Jason Holder 110, Shane Dowrich 103; Raza 5-99). Match drawn.