BULAWAYO – Tagenarine Chanderpaul converted his maiden Test hundred into a splendid double, and combined with captain Kraigg Brathwaite to shatter West Indies’ 33-year-old record for the opening partnership, as the Caribbean side took charge of the opening Test against host Zimbabwe on Monday.
With the rain which had plagued the first two days of the contest staying away, Chanderpaul and Brathwaite exploited the favourable conditions at Queens Sports Club to propel West Indies to an imposing 447 for six declared in their first innings.
The 26-year-old Chanderpaul, in only his third Test, finished unbeaten on 207 after resuming the morning on 101. He faced 467 balls in just shy of 10 hours at the crease and struck 16 and three sixes, becoming only the 10th West Indies batsman to turn his maiden Test century into a double.
Brathwaite, meanwhile, unbeaten on 116 at the start, made 182 – his second highest Test score and falling just short of a second double hundred in Tests. All told, his knock spanned 312 deliveries, a shade over eight hours and included 18 fours.
Resuming the morning with their side on top at 221 without loss, the pair extended their opening stand to 336 – marching past the West Indies record of 298 set by legends Sir Gordon Greenidge and the Most Honourable Desmond Haynes in 1990 against England.
The partnership was also the ninth highest-ever Test opening stand and the first in excess of 300 in nearly a decade.
When West Indies eventually declared during the second session, Zimbabwe produced a strong fightback courtesy of 30-year-old right-hander Innocent Kaia, who stroked an unbeaten 59 in an opening stand 63 with fellow debutant Tanunurwa Makoni, who made 33.
However, once the stand was broken, West Indies picked up three wickets for 51 runs to reduce the hosts to 114 for three at the close – still 333 runs adrift heading into Tuesday’s fourth day.
“The entire team enjoyed seeing Tage, scoring not only his first hundred but converting that into a double. It is something really special not just for him but for the entire team,” interim head coach Andre Coley said afterwards.
“The fact that we’ve lost so much time in the game, we felt we would still give ourselves a chance to get wickets on a pitch as we have seen is good for batting.
“The fact that we’ve taken three wickets is quite good. Obviously we’re feeling good that we were able to get some early inroads into the batting but it will require lots more discipline from us tomorrow, to ensure that we are able to maintain the pressure.”
Anxious to make up for the time lost to rain, Brathwaite lifted the game’s tempo from the start, lashing three successive fours in the morning’s third over from left-arm seamer Richard Ngarava and taking another two off seamer Richard Ngarava, a few overs later.
He raced to 163 at the first drinks break but became the innings first casualty with lunch on the horizon, lbw missing a sweep at left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza.
Chanderpaul reached his 150 about half-hour before lunch to be unbeaten at the interval on 161, and added 37 for the second wicket with Kyle Mayers who blasted two sixes in 20 from 24 balls, before perishing in the penultimate over before the break.
The left-handed Chanderpaul, dropped earlier on 150 off 25-year-old leg-pinner Brandon Mavuta (5-140), was handed another life off the same bowler off the first ball after lunch. He made his chances count, moving into the 180s by punching Mavuta to the mid off boundary and then inching through the 190s, spending 22 balls over nine runs.
However, he reached his double century in style when he advanced to Masakadza and struck him for a straight six, in the first over after the drinks break.
Almost unnoticed, Mavuta cleaned up Raymon Reifer (2), Jermaine Blackwood (5), Roston Chase (7) and Jason Holder (11), to claim a first-ever five-wicket haul.
Kaia, who has so far struck nine fours off 115 balls, then partnered with Makoni to take Zimbabwe safely to tea on 21 without loss before pacer Alzarri Joseph got the breakthrough on the stroke of the hour following the resumption, Mayers pouching Makoni at slip.
Left-arm spinner Guadakesh Motie got Chamu Chibhabha to nick a back foot drive to the ’keeper for nine before Brathwaite struck with the penultimate delivery of the day in his first over of off-spin, comprehensively bowling his opposite number Craig Ervine for 13.
WEST INDIES 447 for six decl. (Tagenarine Chanderpaul 207 not out, Kraigg Brathwaite 182, Kyle Mayers 20; Brandon Mavuta 5-140)
ZIMBABWE 114 for three (Innocent Kaia 59 not out, Tanunurwa Makoni 33)