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    Marlon Samuels strikes form before first Test

    The right-hander celebrated his return to full fitnes by striking 55 in the tour game against Zimbabwe.

    Barbados: West Indies batsman Marlon Samuels celebrated his return to full fitness with a typically elegant half-century on the second day of the three-day tour match against Zimbabwe here.

    The right-hander struck 55 as the High Performance Centre tallied 213 for 7 in reply to Zimbabwe's 255 for 8 declared, at the Desmond Haynes Oval, reports CMC.

    Legspinner Graham Cremer staked his claim for a spot in the final XI for the first Test with 5 for 74. Samuels has been kept out of action ever since he suffered a serious eye injury while playing in the Australia Big Bash in early January. He top edged a short ball from Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga into his face. Sidelined for the one-day and Twenty20 series against Zimbabwe, Samuels readied himself for next week's start of the first Test at Kensington Oval with an innings that required 80 balls in 104 minutes, and contained ten fours.

    He put on 74 for the third wicket with captain Kyle Hope whose top score of 62 came from 133 balls in 164 minutes at the crease, with seven fours and a six. The partnership pulled the HPC around from a rocky position of 15 for two in the fifth over of the innings after seamer Kyle Jarvis knocked over Trevon Griffith (7) and Andre Fletcher (0) cheaply.

    When Samuels pulled Cremer to Tino Mawoyo at midwicket with the score 89, the HPC then lost four wickets for 55 runs. However, wicketkeeper Jahmar Hamilton (37) and Yannic Cariah (36) propped up the innings with a 68-run, seventh wicket stand.

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