Record Book – Highest scores on Test debut for Zimbabwe

Twenty years ago, on 29th July 2001, Zimbabwe’s Hamilton Masakazda created history by becoming the youngest batsman to score a hundred on Test debut. Masakadza was only 17 years and 352 days old when he achieved the feat against the West Indies at Harare (just over a month later, Mohammad Ashraful of Bangladesh became the youngest debutant centurion, at the age of 17 years and 61 days).

This special innings also made Masakadza the second Zimbabwean to reach three figures in an innings on Test debut. On that note, here is a look at the seven Zimbabwean batsmen who have had the distinction of scoring at least 70 runs in an innings on their Test debut.

121 by Dave Houghton v India, Only Test, Harare, 1992-93

Coming in at 199/4 in Zimbabwe’s inaugural Test, captain Houghton stayed put for nearly seven hours, during which he faced 322 balls, hit 15 fours, and added 165 for the sixth wicket with Andy Flower. He thus became the second man after Australia’s Charles Bannerman to score a hundred in his country’s first Test match. Zimbabwe piled up 456 and reduced India to 101/5, before the visitors fought back to ensure a draw.

119 by Hamilton Masakadza v West Indies, Second Test, Harare, 2001

When the Windies took a lead of 216 (replying to Zimbabwe’s 131 with 347) late on the second day, a series sweep looked imminent. However, Masakadza led a determined rescue act from number three. He dug in for 388 minutes and faced 316 balls, hitting 12 fours on the way. Though he was fifth out at 333, the lower order continued the good work to steer Zimbabwe to their highest ever total of 563/9 and the safety of a draw.

87 by Takudzwanashe Kaitano v Bangladesh, Only Test, Harare, 2021

Zimbabwe’s response to Bangladesh’s 468 began positively thanks to Kaitano. The 28-year-old scored 87 from 311 balls in his maiden Test innings, grinding it out for over seven and a half hours while also collecting nine fours. His wicket triggered a collapse from 261/5 to 276 all out, and Zimbabwe eventually lost by 220 runs. But Kaitano had the satisfaction of facing 413 balls in the Test – the most for Zimbabwe on debut.  

Hamilton Masakadza, who remains the youngest Zimbabwean to play Test cricket, scored a match-saving 119 on debut against the West Indies in 2001 (source – ICC/Twitter)

82 by Grant Flower v India, Only Test, Harare, 1992-93

Just like Houghton, Flower made his Test debut in Zimbabwe’s inaugural Test. Along with fellow opener Kevin Arnott, the younger of the Flower brothers signalled an impressive arrival for the Test neophytes. The pair put on exactly 100 in cautious fashion, with Flower going on to bat until he was third out at 186. He occupied the crease for nearly six hours, consuming as many as 297 deliveries and hitting seven fours.

72* by Malcolm Waller v New Zealand, Only Test, Bulawayo, 2011-12

When Waller came out to bat for the first time in Tests, Zimbabwe were 193/4 and trailing New Zealand by 233. He shared in a sixth-wicket stand of 86 with Regis Chakabva but ended up running out of partners as the innings closed at 313. He faced 133 balls and hit nine fours and a six during his stay of 191 minutes. Left to chase 366, Zimbabwe were given hope by skipper Brendan Taylor (117) before going down by only 34 runs.  

71 by Peter Moor v New Zealand, Second Test, Bulawayo, 2016

Reeling from an innings defeat in the first Test, Zimbabwe were again put to the sword as New Zealand racked up 582/4. When Moor, the designated wicketkeeper, joined Craig Ervine, Zimbabwe were 147/5. They added 148 – while Ervine made a fine 146, Moor’s 125-ball knock, which came in 169 minutes and featured 11 fours, helped him carry the total to 362. Needing 387 to win, Zimbabwe were beaten by 254 runs.

70 by Murray Goodwin v Sri Lanka, Kandy, 1997-98

After being bowled out for 140 in response to Sri Lanka’s 469/9, Zimbabwe were staring at an innings defeat. That they avoided it – only just – was partly due to Goodwin, who faced 137 balls and struck four fours in his 190-minute effort from number three. He was fourth out at 185 to Muttiah Muralitharan, who finished with 12 wickets in the match. Zimbabwe dragged to 338 before Sri Lanka won by eight wickets.

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