GARY Ballance scored his maiden Test century for Zimbabwe on his debut to help the hosts recover from early troubles on the fourth day of their first Test here at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo yesterday.
Responding to the West Indies’ first innings total of 447 for 6 declared, Zimbabwe recovered from 192 for 7 at lunch to post 379 for 9 and even had the audacity to declare while on a 68-run deficit.
They had resumed on an overnight score of 114 for three, but lost four wickets in the first session.
At stumps, West Indies had negotiated the last 10 overs of the day unscathed on 21 without loss.
Kraigg Braithwaite will resume on 11, while first innings double centurion Tangerine Chanderpaul was on 10.
It was the partnership of Ballance, who scored 137 runs, and Brendon Mavuta (56), which restored life to the match after things had gone the West Indies way.
Ballance, who played and scored centuries for England, faced 231 balls in his innings, hitting 12 boundaries and two maximums.
Mavuta celebrated his maiden half tone on debut, providing good company for Ballance in their 135 run collaboration.
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He eventually fell to Jason Holder (2 for 55), who castled him to break the blossoming partnership.
Before that, Ballance had watched in agony as his partners shuffled back to the hut in the first session.
Only 14 runs had been added to the overnight score when Innocent Kaia was trapped leg before by Alizarri Joseph for 67.
Not long after that Takudzwa Tsiga had joined him in the pavilion after the wicketkeeper batsman was also trapped by Joseph, having contributed just two runs in a six-ball knock.
Brad Evans did not hang around too long either with seven runs, while Welly Masakadza will be kicking himself after he threw away his wicket at 15 and having faced 73 balls, two deliveries before lunch.
Joseph was the pick of the bowlers for the tourists after retaining figures of 3 for 75, while Jason Holder and Gudakesh Motie equally shared four wickets.
Kemar Roach and Braithwaite had a wicket apiece.
Play will resume this morning with the match seemingly headed for a draw, unless something spectacular happens today.
Zimbabwe: Innocent Kaia, Tanunurwa Makoni, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Gary Ballance, Takudzwa Tsiga, Brad Evans, Welly Masakadza, Victor Nyauchi, Richard Ngarava
West Indies: Kraigg Braithwaite, Tangerine Chanderpaul, Kyle Mayers, Raymon Reifer, Jermai