Zimbabwe national cricket team coach, Heath Streak has said the team’s failure to put up a big first innings total cost them the first Test against West Indies, which they lost by 117 runs at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
By Kevin Mapasure in Bulawayo
He said after bowling out West Indies for 219, the team squandered a golden opportunity with the batting collapse on day two, where they fell meekly for 159 runs.
Streak, however, was pleased with the bowling department, which he said did well in both West Indies innings.
He said Zimbabwe gave away cheap wickets in the second innings, with unnecessary runouts and poor shot selection.
“In the second innings, we gave away five wickets, which we could have avoided,” he said. “We had unnecessary runouts and it was a bit disappointing the way we gave away those wickets. The other five wickets fell to good bowling. Going into the next Test match, we need to make sure that the opposition work for their wickets.”
Zimbabwe started off well with Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire putting up a 99-run first wicket stand, which excited the locals in their pursuit of a victory target of 434.
But once Masakadza’s wicket tumbled for 57, everything went downhill, with his opening partner following him not long after.
Each time a partnership looked to be blossoming, Zimbabwe always found a way to undo all the hard work and shoot themselves in the foot.
While there was that second innings disappointment, in his post-mortem, Streak identified the first innings as the cause of defeat.
“It all comes down to the first innings. In Test cricket, it is always important to put up a big first innings score otherwise you are always going to be chasing. Despite throwing away some of the wickets, I felt we batted well in the second innings and we know that if we are asked to chase 300 in the next match, we can do it. The bowling was good in both West Indies innings. Maybe in the next match, we need to utilise Hamilton and Malcolm Waller a bit more. Our seamers, Chris Mpofu and Kyle Jarvis did well under difficult conditions. We had a good balance.”
The next Test starts on Sunday and Zimbabwe will be looking to get a series-levelling victory.
Streak said with better preparations they could have performed better in this Test.
Zimbabwe Cricket had lined up two four-day matches against Pakistan A in the run-up to this series, but they were cancelled, which meant the team had to plunge into such a huge series undercooked.
“I always say Zimbabwe play well when they play consistently. That we went into this series without having played Test cricket in a long time was obviously a factor. But in future, we will not have these long gaps, as we have a lot of cricket coming up. After South Africa, we should have Pakistan and Afghanistan, who also want to play us,” Streak said.
Unlike Zimbabwe, West Indies were coming from a testing tour of England.
Captain, Graeme Cremer echoed Streak’s sentiments on getting game time.
“When you play more you learn how to deal with different situations. You saw how West Indies sort of slowed things down when they were under pressure. This all comes with playing a lot of cricket,” he said.
Cremer wants to see the team improving on their first innings going into the next match.
“In this match, if we put up a big first innings score, we would have put them under pressure in their second innings. We need to improve on that going into the next match,” he said.