Barbados: After a 3-0 drubbing in the ODIs and 2-0 loss in T20Is at the hands of a depleted West Indies team, Zimbabwe are all set to embark upon a much sterner test of facing the hosts in the two-match Test series with the first Test starting from Tuesday at Kensington Oval, Barbados.
West Indies have bolstered the Test squad with the inclusion of Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle with all-rounder Samuels returning after a two-month injury lay-off whereas Gayle coming back in the squad after being rested for the ODIs and the T20s. In their 13-man squad for the 1st Test, Windies have omitted the out-of-form off-spinner Sunil Narine, who had a below par series in Bangladesh, drafting the 30-year-old offie, Shane Shillingford. Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel has also made it to the squad after an injury layoff at the expense of Ravi Rampaul.
With an easy 2-0 series victory over Bangladesh, West Indies now have much easier opponents to face and will be looking to get off to a winning start. The hosts are on a winning streak with two victories in their previous two Test series against New Zealand and Bangladesh.
Zimbabwe's last outing, nearly a year ago, as an international Test team was rather forgettable as they were pummelled by an innings and 301 by New Zealand in the solitary Test played in January 2012. At Kensington Oval, Zimbabwe would at least feel much more comfortable than the seaming condition of Napier. During the warm-up game against Sagicor High Performance Centre, Zimbabweans were able to hold their own and a century knock from Hamilton Maskadza and 80 from Vusi Sibanda will be a boost for the visitors going into the first Test.
The Zimbabwe Test team resembles their ODI squad with the exception of veteran Ray Price coming in for the longer version of game. Zimbabwe, who have played only four Tests over a period of eight years, will be looking to put up a spirited fight against the hosts. Apart from the top order's form, leg spinner Graeme Cremer's seven wickets in the tour game was a huge positive for Brendon Taylor's team. Along with the experienced Ray Price and Prosper Utseya, Creamer would form a potent attack on very tough pitch for the batsmen to negotiate.
West Indies: Kieron Powell, Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Marlon Samuels , Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Sammy (capt), Tino Best, Shannon Gabriel, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach.
Zimbabwe: Tino Mawoyo, Vusi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendon Taylor (capt), Seam Williams, Malcolm Waller, Regis Chakabva (wk), Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer, Kyle Jarvis, Ray Price.