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The West Indies kick off their 2023 season with a trip to the heart of Africa, where they’ll play a two-match Test series against Zimbabwe. For the West Indies, it provides an opportunity to start their season strong and build some momentum as a national team; for Zimbabwe, it’s a rare chance to play Test cricket in front of home fans. We look at all the best bets to place on the Zimbabwe vs West Indies first Test in this betting preview.
These odds from William Hill were correct at the time of writing.
- Zimbabwe vs West Indies first Test
- 4th of February, 8:00 AM GMT
- Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Pitch Report and Weather Conditions
This week’s warm up match was played at the same venue as both of the two Tests will be—the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. Given that the West Indies scored 500+ in their first innings, this gives us a reasonable indication of the kinds of pitches this venue will produce. Expect a fair wicket that has plenty of good batting in it, with assistance for spinners later on.
Weather will be great for cricket, with no chance of rain and the temperature in the mid-20s.
Zimbabwe vs West Indies – Match Predictions
It’s no secret that this series is the West Indies’ to lose. These two matches against Zimbabwe present a fantastic opportunity for the West Indies to get some confidence and momentum before the start of the next World Test Championship, and they’ll undoubtedly be targeting a 2-0 result.
We believe it’s a very doable outcome for the visitors. While West Indian cricket has largely been in crisis over the past two years due to players exiting the national side in favour of franchise cricket, the one bright light has been their Test side. Across 2022, the West Indies accrued a record of three wins, two draws and two losses, playing series against England, Bangladesh and Australia. Admittedly they were trounced in Australia most recently, but that happens to the best of teams these days.
Expect the West Indies to carry on their momentum from the warm up match, and win this first Test comfortably.
Braithwaite to Be WI Top Run Scorer
Ballance to be Zim Top Run Scorer
West Indies Top Run Scorer
Earlier this week, the West Indies played a warm up match against a Zimbabwe XI. This match was played at the same grounds, and saw the West Indies’ captain Kraigg Braithwaite score 116 off 170 before retiring not out. This century was not an outlier—last year, Braithwaite was critical to the West Indian line up, scoring 460 runs in seven matches, including four half centuries and one century.
As the captain, Braithwaite will be determined to lead from the front. He’s in fantastic form, and with odds of 10/3 (4.33), is an excellent bet to continue scoring big runs in this first Test against Zimbabwe.
Prediction: Kraigg Braithwaite to be the West Indies’ top run scorer.
Zimbabwe Top Run Scorer
Perhaps the most interesting announcement in Zimbabwe’s squad is the inclusion of 33-year-old Gary Ballance. Ballance last played Test cricket in 2017, in a very context—for England. However, the left-handed batsman has been released from his English contract, and returned to his country of birth now, and will make his Test debut on the weekend for Zimbabwe.
In a Zimbabwean side that is looking seriously depleted, we think Ballance will stand tall in the batting order. The batsman has four Test centuries and seven half centuries at an average of 37.45, with just shy of 1500 Test runs to his name. Combine this genuine quality with the motivation of playing for his home nation among a junior side, and there’s every chance Ballance will score big here.
Prediction: Gary Ballance to be Zimbabwe’s top run scorer.
Zimbabwe vs West Indies Preview
With these bets in mind, here’s a closer look at how each team is shaping up ahead of Saturday’s match:
This will be Zimbabwe’s first Test in a year and a half, and they aren’t set up too well for the challenge. Their star all-rounder, Sikandar Raza, will be unavailable due to overseas commitments, while Sean Williams and Ryan Burl are also out. With multiple uncapped players, and little form to go off, Zimbabwe have a challenge on their hands here to make this competitive.
Zimbabwe squad: Gary Ballance, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Tanaka Chivanga, Craig Ervine (c), Bradley Evans, Joylord Gumbie, Innocent Kaia, Tanunurwa Makoni, Wellington Masakadza, Kudzai Maunze, Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Milton Shumba, Donald Tiripano, Tafadzwa Tsiga.
The West Indies will be pleased with their form in the warm up match, where they posted some big runs and their bowlers impressed as well. They’ll be targeting this series as a big confidence booster ahead of their South African tour in late February, and should achieve exactly that. Expect big things from senior players Kemar Roach and Kraigg Braithwaite, who have stuck with their national side amid turbulent times in West Indian cricket.
West Indies squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (C), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Roston Chase, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Raymon Reifer, Devon Thomas, Jomel Warrican, Gudakesh Motie.
How to Watch Zimbabwe vs West Indies First Test in the UK: Live Streaming & Channel List
Those looking to live stream or watch the Zimbabwe vs West Indies first Test on TV have several options:
- ESPN player
- Sky Sports Cricket