Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
DÉBUTANTE Kevin Kasuza played a memorable innings on his Test debut as the Zimbabwe national senior cricket team made a solid start on the first day of the two-match series against Sri Lanka at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Kasuza provided one of the talking points with his patient 63 runs achieved in over five hours of batting as Zimbabwe ended the day favourably on 189 runs for the loss of two wickets.
Playing in their first Test match in 14 months, the new Chevrons skipper Sean Williams won the toss and elected to bat first under the overcast skies at Harare Sports Club.
They were fears earlier on that the skies could give in, but Zimbabwe batted through to the close of the day, when the match was called off because of poor lighting with 84 overs played.
The crowds, who had been starved of international cricket for a while, responded by turning up in good numbers despite the threats of the cloudy weather.
The characteristic energy in the terraces carried the hosts on with the top three batsmen for Zimbabwe hitting half centuries for the first time in the same innings of a Test match.
As they have already indicated, the Chevrons are looking for fresh start on the international arena and yesterday they handed débuts to three players — opening batsman Kasuza, left-arm spinner Ainsley Ndlovu and seam bowler Victor Nyauchi.
Kasuza, who faced 214 balls in 320 minutes before he was trapped lbw by Lahiru Kumara, opened the batting with Prince Masvaure.
Masvaure scored a maiden fifty in only his third Test, with his contribution of 55 runs. The duo gave Zimbabwe a promising start in this match as they absorbed everything that the Sri Lanka bowlers threw at them with marked patience.
The Chevrons held their nerve and at lunch the wickets were still intact with 62 runs on the board from 27 overs. Zimbabwe’s slow progress continued into the afternoon and occasionally, Kasuza would play and miss, particularly against Kumara, but was generally incredibly selective with his strokeplay.
Sri Lanka were perhaps guilty of not bowling enough deliveries that would have hit Kasuza’s stumps, as they laboured outside the off stump.
But Masvaure was the more aggressive one with Kasuza doing well at the other hand providing the support. The partnership was eventually broken with Zimbabwe on 96 runs after Masvaure drove straight to the skipper Dimuth Karunaratne off the bowling of Lasith Embuldeniya, with the Zimbabwe opening batsmen having chowed down 50 overs between themselves. Kasuza eventually crossed the 50-run mark with impressive Craig Ervine having come on at number three following the fall of Masvaure. But then Kasuza had to walk back to the pavilion moments later after he swung his bat late in an attempted reverse sweep off Kumara’s bowling.
Earlier on, the batsman had expressed his joy at making the Test debut and he should have felt gratified by his debut knock.
“I am overjoyed to have finally made my debut for the national team, having played for Zimbabwe A. It is everybody’s dream to don the national colours and I am grateful to the coaches for the faith they have showed in me.
“I am going to try and make a positive impact and win games for the team. The journey has been tough. There were seasons that I performed well in first class, but still failed to make it into the national team. I am really grateful for such an opportunity. It is an honour to play for the nation,” he told our Manicaland bureau at the weekend.
Zimbabwe will be hoping to continue with their fine start when they resume their innings this morning with experienced hands Ervine and Brendan Taylor.
Ervine was in fine form and showed some attacking prowess on the way to a fifty of his own that included three boundaries and three sixes. That was his fourth fifty in Tests and he will be looking forward to build on that good start when play resumes today. Taylor was on 13 from 25 balls when the umpires ruled that play could not continue because of bad light yesterday.