| Stuart Carlisle in action on Friday
Sydney: Stuart Carlisle scored his maiden Test hundred to help Zimbabwe post a respectable total of 256 for eight on the opening day of the second Test with Australia on Friday.
Carlisle bettered his previous high score of 77, made against India two seasons ago, to finish with 118.
“It’s definitely the best moment of my Test career,” Carlisle said. “It’s been a devil in my head for the last two or so years but I’ve just kept on believing in myself.
Zimbabwe had seemed to be heading towards a lower total after losing Dion Ebrahim, Trevor Gripper and Mark Vermeulen in the first hour before Carlisle came to the rescue.
The 31-year-old shared half-century partnerships with Tatenda Taibu and Heath Streak as he slowly set about rebuilding the innings.
“I thought they bowled very well, it was a difficult pitch to score on,” Carlisle said. “To us they’re still a very good bowling side, they’ve got so much depth.”
The Australians began well when Brett Lee bowled Ebrahim for nine.
Gripper followed shortly after when he was caught by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist for 15; then debutant Brad Williams grabbed his first Test wicket when he trapped Vermeulen leg before for 17 with the total on 47.
Williams captured a second wicket after lunch when Craig Wishart nicked one behind and then, leg-spinner Brad Hogg chipped in to dismiss Taibau for 27 when he top-edged an attempted cut.
“It was a pretty even day,” said Gilchrist, who chalked up his 200th Test dismissal when he caught Taibau. “The ball was moving around a lot but they applied themselves pretty well and I think they’ll be happy with the first day.”
Carlisle, a former Test captain, continued to frustrate the Australians with his safety-first approach, reaching his 50 off 96 balls when he took a single off Hogg. He, then, went on to bring up his hundred in 261 minutes when he flicked Williams behind square for two, punching the air with delight.
Carlisle and current skipper Streak added 67 for the sixth wicket before Streak went for 14, leg before to Hogg, triggering a minor late collapse.
Test debutant Gavin Ewing went for two when he edged Lee to slip. Carlisle finally fell when he fended Bichel to Ricky Ponting at slip, ending an innings that spanned almost six hours and featured 13 boundaries and two sixes.
Andy Blignaut was not out nine at stumps with Ray Price unbeaten on seven.
Australia made three forced changes to the side that won the first Test in Perth with Williams, Hogg and Simon Katich replacing Gillespie, MacGill and Darren Lehmann.