Harare: A 15-man West Indies cricket squad arrived here late Tuesday to take on a rejuvenated Zimbabwe in a five-match ODI tour ahead of more serious matters in neighbouring South Africa.
In the rainbow nation, they will play three Tests and five ODIs over Christmas and the New Year.
After long flight delays on their complicated route from the Caribbean, the tourists' scheduled afternoon practice session Wednesday was threatened by stormy weather, and rain was also forecast for the first match on Friday.
West Indies have always done well against Zimbabwe, winning 25 of their 32 previous encounters, including against Zimbabwe teams much stronger than the current one.
Overall, Zimbabwe have lost 73 of 106 50-overs matches played against other full ICC members, but they have previously beaten Australia in a World Cup 50-overs match and last month they shocked Ricky Ponting's team with a victory in the Twenty20 World Championship.
Zimbabwe have just returned from a tournament against strong South African domestic teams, winning the last match by 10 wickets, in which captain Prosper Utseya struck 115 not out and Hamilton Mazakadza made 85.
Mazakadza hit a maiden Test century against West Indies here on his debut at the age of 18, and the more senior players from the Caribbean will remember him well.
Zimbabwe will also rely heavily for runs from unorthodox Brendan Taylor and Elton Chigumbura, and also former captain Tatenda Taibu.
Unexpectedly back in the team after two seasons with Worcestershire is left-arm spinner Ray Price, nephew of Major golf championship winner Nick Price.
Although players such as Dwayne Smith, Pedro Collins and Corey Colleymore are out of form or unfit, places in the West Indies lineup have opened up for Fidel Edwards and debutant Brenton Parchment at the top of the order.
The matches start early here because of limited daylight hours, and captains have taken to fielding first when winning the toss. But rain is likely to play a factor on the tour, which includes three matches in Harare and two in Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe are still operating around a large squad and will not name their final 13 until Friday.
Windies squad: Brenton Parchment, Chris Gayle (capt), Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Fidel Edwards, Runako Morton, Rawl Lewis, Darren Powell, Dinesh Ramadin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Devon Smith and Jerome Taylor.
Umpires for the first match are Brian Jerling of South Africa and Kevin Barbour of Zimbabwe.