Zimbabwe hunting continued improvement

Hosts Zimbabwe will need to try to look past the result of the first Test against the West Indies and focus on improving.

Heath Streak’s team have an opportunity to come together and show that this unit can be competitive on the world stage despite the problems facing the game in the Southern African country.

The positivity that was pervasive ahead of the series has given way after it emerged that Zimbabwe Cricket was suffering from cash flow problems.

The contest in Bulawayo remains a clash of eleven men against another eleven men though and Zimbabwe will have learned a lot from the first Test.

The West Indies strengths are clear, Shai Hope’s immense talent sticks out while spin-bowling Roston Chase has been a consistent performer in an inconsistent team and leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo made the most of the dry Bulawayo wicket.

As clear as those strengths are there is a fragility about the Windies batting especially against spin.

Zimbabwe’s batsmen would do well to adopt an approach similar to the one they engaged in Sri Lanka. It is crucial that they stay positive and keep that scoreboard ticking over to shift pressure onto a West Indies team that has endured a difficult twelve months on the back of steady decline since the 1990s.

The home side were buoyed by the return of Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis but neither was able to make the kind of impact that was expected but then was it too much to expect that immediate boost?

The bulk of both player’s cricket has been played in England, a far cry from the Queen’s Club in Bulawayo. Patience will be the watch word while more cricket is undoubtedly needed if Zimbabwe are to step out of the shadow of neighbours South Africa and their administrative problems which reflect wider problems in the country.

For Jason Holder’s West Indies the goal will be to emphatically wrap up a series where they have everything to lose and little to gain but more time in the middle together.

The batsmen need runs and consistency while their bowlers need to maintain their focus on what could be a flat track.

Expect Chase and Bishoo to play a big role once again just as Zimbabwe’s spin trio of Sikandar Raza, Graeme Cremer and Sean Wiliams will.

Key Players

Craig Ervine can ill-afford to abdicate his role as the pillar of this team’s batting despite Taylor’s return.

Cremer is a workhorse of a bowler and much of Zimbabwe’s success in recent times has come on the back of his graft.

Shai Hope has begun to deliver on the promise that saw selector’s keep faith with him despite a slow start to Test cricket.

Squads

Zimbabwe Test squad: Graeme Cremer (c), Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Malcolm Waller, Peter Moor, Regis Chakabva, Michael Chinouya, Christopher Mpofu, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chisoro, Nyasha Mayavo

West Indies Test squad: Jason Holder (capt), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach

Last five head-to-head results

2017 First Test: West Indies won by 117 runs in Bulawayo
2013 Second Test: West Indies won by an innings and 65 runs in Roseau
2013 First Test: West Indies won by nine wickets in Bridgetown
2003 Second Test: West Indies won by 128 runs in Bulawayo
2003 First Test: Drawn match in Harare

Details

29 October until November 2

Sessions: Start 09:30-11:30 (07:30-9:30 GMT) Lunch 12:15-14:15 (10:15-12:15 GMT) Tea 14:30-16:30 (12:30-16:30 GMT) Close

Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena, Simon Fry
TV Umpire: Paul Reiffel
Reserve Umpire: Langton Rusere
Match Referee: Javagal Srinath