| Andy Bichel celebrates a wicket in Perth on Sunday
Perth: Rain held up Australia’s push for an innings victory in the first Test against Zimbabwe at the WACA here on Sunday. The hosts were left needing just one wicket after rain curtailed the final session.
Heavy showers just after tea sent the players scurrying off the field with Zimbabwe, needing 497 to make the Aussies bat a second time, on 247 for nine.
After a 73-minute delay, play resumed for 11.3 overs before rain brought a halt with Zimbabwe 272 for nine. They still need 224 to wipe off the deficit.
The last-wicket pair of skipper Heath Streak (42 batting) and Ray Price (17 batting) held up Australia for 47 minutes to force the match into the final day, when further rain is forecast.
Zimbabwe had nose-dived to 126 for seven in the second innings before the lower-order put up a fight.
The home team coasted to the brink of victory despite the absence of two frontline bowlers Jason Gillespie and Stuart MacGill. Both were injured on Saturday.
In the pair’s absence, fast bowler Andy Bichel (three for 55) and seldom-used left-arm spinner Darren Lehmann (three for 54) did the job.
Zimbabwe’s innings disintegrated in the morning, with five wickets crashing for 16 runs, after Mark Vermeulen (63) and Stuart Carlisle (35) had carried the side to 110 for two with a third-wicket stand of 99.
The only other Zimbabwe batsmen to show any touch were left-hander Sean Ervine and Streak. Ervine stroked an attractive 53 (seven fours, one six) from 98 balls. Ervine and Streak added a fighting 83 for the eighth wicket to give the tourists a modicum of respectability .