Regarding Zimbabwe’s squad selection, West Indies coach Stuart Law was quoted in a report from ESPNCricinfo saying, ” If you look at the squad Zimbabwe have picked, they’ve got six players who can bowl spin. The wicket here is traditionally very good for batting and spins more and more as the game goes on. Having said that, we’ve also got two or three guys who can crank it up to over 90mph and at that pace, it doesn’t really matter where you’re playing, it’s hard to bat against.”
It would be harsh to say, but the bitter truth is, not many top Test nations consider Zimbabwe threatening enough. Such is the impact of Zimbabwe that a team like India doesn’t send their frontline players to Zimbabwe and have the second fringe of players in the attack. This series could change the perception. Their players have gelled as a unit and developed into a force.
West Indies, on the other hand, are undergoing a rebuilding phase and with many key players not being available, Zimbabwe stand a solid chance. West Indies are not the same side that won games at will couple of decades back, they lack some flavour, yet the future looks promising.
They did well in testing English conditions recently and pulled off an inspiring victory at Leeds, but Zimbabwe will pose challenges of a different kind. They have some serious batting talents and will be interesting to see how they fare in Zimbabwe. Their bowling did well occasionally and will have to pull up on consistency. The likes of Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph have the ability to produce brilliant spells and seam will certainly play a crucial role in the first few days.
West Indies have a similar set of players for this tour that locked horns in England. Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite will be the man to watch out for. West Indies have lost nine Test series on a trot and this is their chance to break the jinx. One can expect them to come out hard and put up their best game against the high on confidence Zimbabwe. They haven’t won an away series for a while now, since November 2012 and last 10 Test series, to be precise. They are well aware of the fact that they stand a massive opportunity against Zimbabwe, but the hosts will be a tough nut to crack.
Both the teams are battling for a much-needed win and whoever gets it will gain immense momentum out of it. Zimbabwe have a golden chance to register a scintillating series win at home and the battle between two will be worth watching. And do not forget, it could well be the start of a new era in Zimbabwe cricket.