Bridgetown: Captain Darren Sammy hit a boundary-studded 73 off 69 balls and shared a partnership of 106 with Denesh Ramdin as the West Indies dug themselves out of a tough situation to take control of the first Test against Zimbabwe on the second day on Wednesday. The seventh wicket pair of Sammy and Ramdin lifted the hosts out of the peril of 151-6 and to a first innings lead of 96 as the West Indies were bowled out for 307 in reply to Zimbabwe's first innings total of 211.
Marlon Samuels had anchored the top order with a typically fluent 51 while fast bowler Kyle Jarvis took a career-best 5-54 to lead the tourists. In the final hour, the West Indies bowlers further deflated the visitors, who slumped to 41-3 by the close, still trailing by 55. Off-spinner Shane Shillingford grabbed 2-9 while fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who made the initial strike, took 1-7.
Earlier, Jarvis continued where he left off from day one as the West Indies resumed on 18-2. The 24-year-old, who claimed both wickets with the new ball late on Tuesday, further dented the Caribbean side within half hour. Darren Bravo (11) never looked settled before edging to wicket-keeper Regis Chakabva at 43-3.
Chris Gayle added 38 in quick time with fellow Jamaican Samuels but just as the powerful left-hander was beginning to find his stride, he provided Tendai Chatara with his first Test wicket. The 22-year-old Chatara, on debut, got one to lift off a good length and Gayle sparred to second slip where captain Brendan Taylor pouched an easy catch. Gayle hit eight fours in 40 off 76 balls. Samuels and veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul pulled the Caribbean side from the crossroads of 81-4 with a confident fifth wicket stand of 63 in less than an hour. Samuels was the more dominant, using his feet to the spinners and finding the boundaries with typical flourish.
He passed fifty for the 10th time in his last 15 Test innings, off 67 balls, but medium pacer Hamilton Masakadza made a telling intervention minutes before lunch. Samuels chased a wide delivery and feathered an edge through to a delighted Chakabva. Samuels, who had career-best figures of 4-13 in Zimbabwe's first innings, hit nine fours and one six. Jarvis returned soon after lunch to claim the prized left-hander Chanderpaul and put Zimbabwe in a buoyant mood. The veteran left-hander under-edged a pull and Chakabva pouched his third catch at 151-6.
But Sammy and Ramdin quickly shifted the momentum in the next hour and a half. The forthright Sammy was particularly harsh on leg-spinner Graeme Cremer, hammering him for 47 runs off 28 balls, including four fours and four sixes. Sammy brought up his half century off 38 deliveries as he treated the crowd of 2,500 to some thrilling stroke-play.
Ramdin played more of an anchor role but also reeled off some authentic shots. By the time Masakadza returned to make the breakthrough, the West Indies had built a healthy lead. Sammy, who had been dropped on the deep cover boundary by Ray Price off Masakadza when 72, added just one before he eventually dragged back onto off stump of the same bowler when in sight of a second test century.
Ray Price claimed Shane Shillingford to a miscued catch to mid-on soon after tea but Ramdin found another useful ally in Tino Best, who contributed a busy 24. Ramdin, after striking eight fours off 130 balls, eventually provided Chatara with a second wicket when he edged to second slip. Soon afterward, Jarvis claimed Best as his fifth victim when the pacer slashed to backward point.
Zimbabwe's second innings started solidly enough but they lost their way in the last half hour. Tino Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda added 26 for the first wicket before Gabriel struck with his first delivery. Mawoyo, who topscored with an even 50 in the first innings, chased a wide outswinger and Sammy clung on gleefully at second slip. One run later, Shillingford also celebrated a wicket first ball, Masakadza turning a catch to Sammy at leg slip.
Shillingford also prised out Sibanda before the close, hauling in an easy return catch as the batsman chipped off the leading edge. Nightwatchman Ray Price (7 not out) and captain Brendan Taylor (0 not out) survived to the close.