As Kyle Jarvis and Brendan Taylor return to Zimbabwe their team looks better than ever, perhaps the best it has ever been. They face an inconsistent West Indies who have not had a great year so far. They have lost all their last three series’ to England, India and Pakistan.
Normally, one would cast away this fixture as worth barely anything more than filler, but after aeons, Zimbabwe has a legitimate chance of defeating the Windies. They pulled the surprise on Sri Lanka in an ODI series earlier this year, and that was without the two big returning names. Can they do it again?
Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach.
Graeme Cremer (c), Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Malcolm Waller, Peter Moor, Regis Chakabva, Michael Chinouya, Chris Mpofu, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chisoro, Nyasha Mayavo.
Where the Teams Stand
The Windies have blown hot and cold this year, pulling off the odd upset against England and India, but largely struggling against the big teams. This saw them lose their automatic qualifying place by being out of the top eight as they slipped down the ICC rankings. Shai Hope has been their lone source of hope in the past few series’, carrying them to victory against England in a heroic chase, and performing well against India.
Holder has a decent batting lineup to play with, his squad including the Hope brothers, Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Dowrich, and Chase. Shimron Hetmyer is another option for Dowrich given that both are keepers. Dowrich and Chase have not fared particularly well in recent times, so Hetmyer has a decent chance of selection. Blackwood is an effective pinch hitter, one of the few who could parry the English bowling onslaught. A talented side that has much to prove.
The bowling is largely the same as it was against England with Roach, Holder, Gabriel, Joseph, and Bishoo forming the core. Chase can contribute with the ball, playing as the second spinner to Bishoo. The first four form a potent bowling attack, with Roach returning to the international scene against England after a long absence and faring well. This bowling attack is as good as it gets for the Windies, at least for Test match cricket, and it’s not a bad one.
Cremer will be elated with the squad of players he has at his disposal. Experienced journeyman Masakadza will open as always, presumably with Taylor. Ervine, Raza, Mire, Moor and Williams in the middle order.
The last time Zimbabwe played a Test, Ervine scored 160 and made Raza 127. Taylor, who is a former captain of Zimbabwe, was arguably their best batsman when he left and is still their best on his return. Waller might get a chance in place of either Mire or Moor, given that Williams all-round abilities will be an added incentive for his selection. This batting lineup can easily compete with their rivals’, perhaps even outdo them.
Kyle Jarvis is one of the most exciting pacers that Zimbabwe has ever produced. His return provides a great boost to the teams attack, which was previously reliant on Cremer for breakthroughs. Mpofu will compliment Jarvis in the pace department, one of the more experienced members of the squad.
Raza and Williams are both all-rounders, forming a key part of the attack. This is an area where the Windies hold an advantage over Zimbabwe, one that could prove decisive over five days if the Zimbabwean batsmen aren’t careful.
Who will get off to the perfect start in this series? Let us know in the comments below.
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