Zimbabwe's spinners sparked a West Indies collapse on day one of the first test, with the tourists sliding from 174-3 to 219 all out in their first innings on Saturday.
Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer took 4-64 and fellow slow bowler Sean Williams 3-20 as West Indies lost its last seven wickets for 45 runs after deciding to bat first at Queens Sports Club.
Zimbabwe took all of the last seven wickets in the final session as legspinner Cremer and offspinner Williams found turn and bounce on the pitch in Bulawayo to give Zimbabwe an early advantage in the first of two tests.
Shai Hope was 90 not out and denied a century when he ran out of partners. Opener Kieran Powell made 56.
Zimbabwe was 19-0 at stumps, with Solomon Mire hitting two fours and a six and racing to 17 off 18 balls on his debut.
West Indies looked solid with Hope part of partnerships of 75 with Powell and 64 with Roston Chase (31).
Chase's dismissal just after tea to Sikandar Raza, another spin bowler, set off the West Indies collapse. Shane Dowrich and captain Jason Holder fell to Williams and the last three West Indians were out for ducks.
Hope continued to show the form that made him West Indies' standout player in the recent series loss in England, hitting seven fours and a six and showing composure on the spinning pitch. His teammates let him down, though, and he finished 10 short of a third century in his last five innings.
Zimbabwe last won a test in 2013 but has been boosted for this series by the return of batsman Brendan Taylor and fast bowler Kyle Jarvis, who are resuming their test careers after giving up internationals to play in English county cricket.
Jarvis took 1-40 in his first test for four years.