Confident Kiwis out to rattle WindiesComment on this story
Port of Spain - A confident, settled New Zealand team will be chasing a series-clinching win over a rattled West Indies side when the second Test begins at the Queen's Park Oval on Monday.
Unless a seamer-friendly pitch is prepared - a highly unlikely eventuality given the tradition of bare, lifeless surfaces at this ground - the tourists are expected to play the same 11 who trounced the hosts by 186 runs with a day to spare in the first Test in Kingston last week.
This would mean an even balance of pace and spin, offering an opportunity for off-spinner Mark Craig to build on a dream Test debut at Sabina Park when he finished with match figures of eight for 188 to take the Man of the Match award.
However coach Mike Hesson was not taking anything for granted.
“I've heard contrasting views. Some have said it's going to be a dustbowl and others have said there's going to be plenty of grass on it,” he said.
Whatever the appearance of the pitch on the first morning, the West Indies are poised to ring the changes with the prospect of as many as three alterations from the team that was kept in the field for almost the entire two days of the first Test but could only manage totals of 262 and 216 in their two innings.
Opener Kieran Powell and experienced middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels have been dropped, so Kraigg Brathwaite is expected to open the batting alongside Chris Gayle while 22-year-old Jermaine Blackwood is set for a Test debut in the middle order.
There is also the possibility that Guyanese left-hander Leon Johnson could also get his first Test cap at the expense of Kirk Edwards, who only managed scores of 0 and 14 in Jamaica.
Returning to the venue where he claimed 10 wickets in the match the last time a Test was played here, against Australia in 2012, fast bowler Kemar Roach is hopeful of recapturing that sort of form.
“I'm actually looking to improve on that performance,” he said. “We are behind the eight ball, so we have to go out there and win.”
That Test two years ago ended in a rain-affected draw. There has been some rain in the country over the past week, although inclement weather is not expected to be a significant disruptive factor in the match.
West Indies: Chris Gayle, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Jermaine Blackwood, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Leon Johnson, Denesh Ramdin (capt), Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn, Shane Shillingford.
New Zealand: Tom Latham, Peter Fulton, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (capt), Jimmy Neesham, B.J. Watling, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Mark Craig, Trent Boult. - Sapa-AFP