West Indies turned the first test around and led by 148 runs after five wickets from legspinner Devendra Bishoo helped bowl Zimbabwe out for 159 on Day 2 on Sunday. West Indies struggled to 219 all out in its first innings but Bishoo made use of the spin-friendly pitch at Queens Sports Club to claim a fourth five-wicket haul and put the tourists in a position of strength.
The West Indians had reached 88/1 in their second innings by stumps, building a significant lead in the first of two tests in Bulawayo.
Of the 21 wickets to fall in the first two days, 14 of them have gone to spin bowling. That's a surprising return on a surface that's just two days old, but Bishoo didn't mind as he collected 5/79.
Opener Hamilton Masakadza top-scored with 42 for Zimbabwe and Craig Ervine made 39. But Bishoo removed both of them, and the rest of Zimbabwe's batsmen couldn't muster much between them.
Kraigg Brathwaite was 38 not out and Kyle Hope 32 not out in West Indies' second innings, with Kieran Powell the only wicket to fall — also to the spin of Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer.
West Indies lost its most recent series 2-1 in England but showed promise on that tour and is favoured to beat a Zimbabwe team that hasn't won a test since 2013.
Despite that poor run, Zimbabwe had high hopes ahead of this series after the return of Brendan Taylor, its best batsman, and Kyle Jarvis, its best quick bowler. They gave up internationals for three and four years, respectively, to play in English county cricket.
Taylor, in his first test innings since November 2014, was out for 1 caught by Jermaine Blackwood at slip trying to play a reverse sweep off Bishoo.