Zimbabwe spinners Graeme Cremer and Sean Williams shared seven wickets as the West Indies were bowled out for 219 on the opening day of the first Test at Queens Sports Club on Saturday. Cremer claimed 4 for 64 and Williams took 3 for 20, with most of those wickets coming in a dramatic hour in which the West Indies lost their last seven wickets for 45 runs. Top scorer Shai Hope was left stranded on 90 not out as he ran out of partners, with opener Kieran Powell's 56 the only other score of note. Zimbabwe then made a positive start to their reply, with Hamilton Masakadza and debutant Solomon Mire carrying them to the close of play on 19 without loss.
"When they were 170-odd for three we were not expecting them to be bowled out 45 runs later," said Williams.
While the West Indian total was certainly below par, it came on a pitch that took turn from the moment that spin was introduced in the first session of the game.
At that point the visitors were already two wickets down after seamers Kyle Jarvis and Solomon Mire had struck, and were battling to inject any momentum into their innings as Chris Mpofu bowled a couple of stifling spells up front.
A 75-run stand for the third wicket between Powell and Hope led the West Indies recovery, but Zimbabwe remained patient and never let the scoring accelerate.
That allowed the hosts to take control once again when Cremer made the breakthrough, as Powell was brilliantly caught at short leg by Craig Ervine.
Hope added 64 for the fourth wicket with Roston Chase, but the collapse began after tea when Chase was dismissed by Sikandar Raza, with Ervine completing the second of his four catches.
Jermaine Blackwood was superbly stumped by Regis Chakabva as Cremer returned soon after, and the remaining wickets went down in a flurry as Williams took 3 for 2 in four overs.
"Between Cremer and I, we just tried to keep the squeeze on as much as possible, especially to Hope because we knew his hundred was coming up and we didn't want him to have any strike," said Williams.
With Cremer finishing the innings with two wickets in two balls, Hope was denied the opportunity to score a third Test century in as many matches.
Although Zimbabwe closed the day trailing by just 200 runs, Hope said there had been mitigating factors for the low West Indian total.
"Honestly, it was a very slow outfield. So that 219 could easily have been closer to 300," he said.
"When I was batting I hit quite a few balls through the gap, but scoring was never easy. (219) was under par, and under what we were expecting, but I still think we have a chance."