Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town
West Indies captain Jason Holder has called legspinner Devendra Bishoo "the main man" ahead of the second Test against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. Bishoo's match haul of 9 for 184 helped West Indies seal a 117-run win in the first Test, and with both games being played at the same ground conditions are once again likely to favour spin bowling.
"The conditions look to be in his favour again, so hopefully we can support him and aid him in being the main man," Holder said. "The beauty of the way he bowled is also how well the other bowlers supported him. I don't think he would have been as successful if we'd leaked runs at the other end, so I must give credit to all three seamers too. I think we held things up nicely from the other end and gave him the freedom and liberty to express himself. He was able to come in, settle quite nicely, apply pressure and grab wickets."
After a quiet tour of England during which he took just three wickets across two Tests, Bishoo's was a scene-stealing performance and the most recent peak since his return to West Indies' Test squad in 2015. Since then, Bishoo has 58 wickets from 16 Tests, and could pass 100 Test scalps in the second match against Zimbabwe.
"I thought he was a lot better than previously," Holder said of Bishoo. "In the past, he's been really hampered by his starts. I think a lot of teams have tried to get on top of him early and he hasn't been able to really come back in to the game per se. In this series so far he's been able to start well, keeping the batsmen honest, keeping them on the front foot and asking really good questions of them. Hopefully if he continues in that vein in this Test match, I'd expect a ten-wicket haul perhaps from Bishoo."
Bishoo came on as first change in the first innings against Zimbabwe in the first game, taking advantage of the relativeness quickness of the track to take 5 for 79. Bowlers on both sides had to work a lot harder for their wickets as the match wore on and the pitch slowed up.
"As the match progressed, the wicket really slowed down, the spin was a lot slower and you had time to adjust," Holder explained. "From the second-innings scores from both teams, you could see the pitch became a lot easier to bat on. It's one those wickets where you've really got to knuckle down early on in your innings, absorb as much pressure as possible. Guys like Roston Chase, Shai Hope, Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell showed that if you absorb that pressure, you're able to cash in."
Though some unseasonably cold weather set in before the start of the second Test, Holder expected the track being used to play much the same and to retain its dryness. "I don't think the pitch itself will really change much. I had a look at it, yesterday and today, and it still seems really, really dry. I could expect spinners to have a big impact again."