Zimbabwe’s upcoming two-Test series in the West Indies will be their first consisting of at least two Tests since 2005-06, after which they returned to the Test fold only in the 2011-12 season, playing four one-off Tests. Moreover, this will be Zimbabwe’s only second visit to the Caribbean, the first being in 1999-00.
The Test series starts with the first Test at Bridgetown’s Kensington Oval (Barbados) from March 12-16, while the second Test will be played at Windsor Park in Roseau (Dominica) from March 20-24. Zimbabwe have played at neither of these venues. Since 2000, West Indies have won only twice in 13 games at Bridgetown (losing 7), while they have drawn and lost the two games played so far at Roseau.
Head To Head and Recent Record
West Indies and Zimbabwe have played only 6 Tests against each other, with the Windies winning four and two being draws. In the Caribbean, only two Tests have been played, back in 1999-00 when the hosts won the two-Test series 2-0. Zimbabwe could actually have won twice – at Port-of-Spain in 1999-00 (the very first Test between the two teams) they failed to chase 99, getting bowled out for 63; while at Harare in 2003-04, they were defied by the West Indian last pair for almost 12 overs to ensure a draw. The last time the two teams met was the 2003-04 two-Test series in Zimbabwe, which was won 1-0 by the West Indies.
Form Book and Ranking
Given their struggles over the last decade or so, the West Indies are enjoying a relatively much better run at present – they have won their last four Tests this season, courtesy identical 2-0 wins at home against New Zealand and away against Bangladesh. At the start of the season, they lost a three-Test series in England 0-2 despite performing impressively, with their tendency to suffer one very bad session making the difference. Ranked 7th, they are just a point behind 6th ranked Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe made a return to Test cricket last season after six years of exile, winning their very first comeback match at home against Bangladesh in 2011, after which they lost one-off home Tests to Pakistan and New Zealand (they lost to the latter by just 28 runs) and a massive innings defeat to New Zealand away. They have not played any Tests so far this season. Due to inadequate number of Tests played, they are not part of the Test Championship table at the moment.
Players To Watch Out For
The highly talented Darren Bravo will look to carry his good form into the series against Zimbabwe (source – ndtv.com)
Last season during the tours of Bangladesh and India, left-handed batsman Darren Bravo reminded everybody of his cousin and legendary batsman Brian Lara, but in the home series against Australia last season and this season’s England tour, he could not really convert his starts into big scores. However, he found his touch on the recent Bangladesh tour, averaging 98 in two Tests. He is a real talent undoubtedly, and will look to make the most of this series against a weaker opposition. Zimbabwe have seen tough times since their exile in 2005, but last season’s performances have been encouraging. A major part of their rebuilding process has been Brendan Taylor their captain, wicketkeeper as well as their most reliable batsman. In eight innings since Zimbabwe’s comeback, he has made two centuries and two half-centuries, playing a part in the win against Bangladesh and almost leading his side to an upset win over New Zealand. In an inexperienced batting line-up, Taylor’s confident approach and relative experience will be invaluable for the visitors.
Zimbabwe will expect Brendan Taylor – who is their captain, wicketkeeper and most reliable batsman – to rise up to the challenge (source – espncricinfo.com)
Zimbabwe will be playing in their whites after more than a year, and this lack of recent Test match experience has only added to their already existing off-field problems. The West Indies will eye the rare prospect of extended their wining run to 6 Tests – the last time they enjoyed a similarly productive run was in the 1988-89 season, when they won 7 Tests in a row. Unless Zimbabwe display some of the grit they have shown in past encounters against the West Indies, it will be safe to assume a 2-0 victory for the hosts.