Bulawayo: The return of Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis, the prodigal sons, should make Zimbabwe a stronger unit than otherwise when it takes on Windies in the first Test of a two-match series at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo from Saturday.
Taylor, the former captain, last featured for Zimbabwe in an ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 group game against India, where he scored a century in a losing cause, while Jarvis’s last outing in national colours also came against India, in 2013 in Bulawayo in a One-Day International.
Taylor, 31, will add experience to the batting line-up, which already has Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza. The four played a key role in Zimbabwe's 3-2 ODI series victory in Sri Lanka three months ago, with Ervine and Raza also scoring centuries in the only Test, which Sri Lanka won after a tough scrap.
Solomon Mire, one of Zimbabwe’s best limited-overs batsmen in recent times, will be one of the strong contenders to make his Test debut, while Regis Chakabva, Peter Moor and Malcolm Waller have been good in patches and, given an opportunity, will look to cement their places in a strong-looking batting unit.
Jarvis, who has 30 wickets from eight Tests, could join Christopher Mpofu, the right-arm quick, in a two-pronged pace attack on what has traditionally been a slow pitch with Graeme Cremer, the captain, heading the spin department.
On the other side, Jason Holder, the Windies skipper, has the same set of 15 players that showed great fight in a three-match Test series in England, which it lost 2-1.
Shai Hope, who scored 375 runs in six innings in England, will lead the batting pack with support from Kraigg Brathwaite, the vice-captain, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase and Kieran Powell.
With the ball, Windies will rely on the pacers to do most of the damage. The likes of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Holder can make life difficult for any batsman on their day and the Zimbabweans would be wary about them.
Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (capt), Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Malcolm Waller, Peter Moor, Regis Chakabva (wk), Michael Chinouya, Christopher Mpofu, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chisoro, Nyasha Mayavo.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Kraigg Brathwaite (vice-capt), 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.
Pitch and Conditions
The summer rains have not yet quite reached Zimbabwe, and the thermometer extended well beyond 30 degrees in the week before the Test.
Stats and trivia
Oct 21 - 25, 2017
Start time 10:00 local (08:00 GMT)