Windies eye sweep but wary of turning pitch, chill
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (CMC):
Already faced with the challenge of yet another turning track at Queens Sports Club, West Indies could now be forced to battle frigid temperatures when they face Zimbabwe in the second and final Test here today.
The Caribbean side were confronted with 13o Celsius weather in training yesterday, and the forecast for the next two days includes more of the same, along with the prospect of rain.
With the Queens pitch seemingly even drier than the first Test a week ago, West Indies could face a battle on two fronts as they look to complete a clean sweep of the series.
"Hopefully, it warms back up for us. Obviously, the first Test match was really, really humid, and these last few days have toned down a lot more, but it's nothing foreign to us," captain Jason Holder said yesterday.
"We've obviously just come off a tour of England, so we're accustomed to cool conditions but I don't think the pitch in itself will change much. I had a look at it yesterday and today, and it still seems really dry, and you can expect spinners to have a really good impact on the game again.
"We're professional cricketers. We're prepared to adjust, and that's what we have to do."
In the opening Test, the Queens track turned from the first morning, and West Indies crumbled for 219 in their first innings, batting first.
However, leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo imposed himself on the game for the visitors, with his five-wicket haul securing them a handy 60-run lead.
West Indies collared Zimbabwe's spin duo of Graeme Cremer and Sean Williams the second time around to pile up 373 before Bishoo once again shone with a four-wicket to ensure a 117-run victory inside four days.
Holder said that with conditions as they were, he expected Bishoo to once again be a key cog in the Windies attack.
"I thought he was a lot better than previously. He's come into these conditions. Obviously, they favour spin, and he's been able to get some success," the all-rounder explained.
"I think the beauty about how he bowled is how the other bowlers supported him. I don't think he would've been as successful if we had leaked runs from the other end. I must give credit to all three seamers who played.
"I thought we held up things quite nicely from the other end, and that gave him the freedom and liberty to express himself.
"He was able to come in, settle, apply pressure, and not only apply pressure, but grab wickets, which is always crucial, and I expect nothing different from him in this game again. The conditions look to be in his favour, so, hopefully, we can support again around him and leave him being the main man."
West Indies have never lost a Test to Zimbabwe in eight meetings before the current series, winning six and drawing eight of those contests.
And the ease with which they eventually rolled over the hosts last week suggests a massive gulf between the two teams.
Holder said, however, that there would be no slackening on the part of his side as they looked to finish the series strongly.
"We've done some really good stuff since we've been here in Zimbabwe, following a relatively decent tour of England," he noted.
"I like the direction in which we are going. I think the guys are getting accustomed to the arena of Test cricket, and everybody is slowly, but surely, champing at the bit and looking to set the world alight."
Play bowls off at 3 a.m. Jamaica time.
WEST INDIES - Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich (wicketkeeper), Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph, Miguel Cummins, Shimron Hetmyer, Raymon Reifer, Devendra Bishoo.
ZIMBABWE - Graeme Cremer (captain), Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Malcolm Waller, Peter Moor, Regis Chakabva (wicketkeeper), Michael Chinouya, Chris Mpofu, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chisoro, Nyasha Mayavo.