CHRISTCHURCH – Three international matches on tour so far have produced three defeats for Windies, and if it doesn’t reverse that trend in the second One-Day International against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Saturday, there will be no comebacks left in the three-match ODI series.
Windies was beaten handily in the two-Test series, and in the first ODI, New Zealand didn’t face any major obstacles in chasing down a target of 249 – doing it with five wickets in the bag and four overs to spare.
New Zealand at home is a formidable proposition in any case, and given the dominance, it has established in the Windies’ tour so far, it will take something special from the visiting side to topple the home team and keep the ODI series alive. One of the men who could provide that spark is Chris Gayle, but his participation in the match is uncertain.
The big Jamaican left-hander has been unwell and could miss out. That will leave Windies thin on experience, though there is plenty of natural talent in the side and it has a number of players capable of grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck in white-ball cricket. Still, if Gayle is absent it will undoubtedly be a major factor.
But New Zealand won’t be at full-strength either, with both Kane Williamson and Tim Southee being given breaks after the first ODI. Neither will take part in this match or the third ODI, and Tom Latham will lead the team with Williamson missing. Latham has recently shown great adaptability to the 50-over format, coming up with match-winning knocks in testing circumstances.
He will need to carry that form into this game with Williamson not there. That Martin Guptill, the regular opener, is also out injured could give Windies a crack at a slightly raw top order.
History too is in New Zealand’s corner. It has won each of the six matches it has played at this venue, and its traditionally seam-friendly surface that keeps pacers interested with movement off the pitch will suit New Zealand’s bowling attack.
Even without Southee, a line-up of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry and Doug Bracewell – the first ODI hero – can cause plenty of problems to the batsmen. Bracewell, who took 4 for 55, was instrumental in keeping Windies down to just 248 for 9 in 50 overs in the first ODI. While batting, New Zealand had solid contributions from each of the top four of George Worker, Colin Munro, Williamson and Ross Taylor to go over the line.
Williamson might not be there now, but Jason Holder will demand more from his attack, including himself, to not only nip partnerships in the bud but also stick to tight lines to keep the scoring in check.
On the whole, Windies will need a team effort to regroup and come hard at a New Zealand side weakened a bit with key players resting. If it can do that, the series will stay alive.
A wide to finish and the BLACKCAPS claim a clinical 5-wicket win in the opening ODI v West Indies at Cobham Oval in Whangarei.
Taylor 49* & Astle 15* reaching 249 with 4 overs to spare.#NZvWI CARD | https://t.co/L5UPRvU6vk … pic.twitter.com/S8RUNDOK2L
The teams are:
New Zealand: Tom Latham (capt, wk), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, George Worker, Neil Broom, Mitchell Santner, Seth Rance.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Jason Mohammed, Shimron Hetmyer, Ronsford Beaton, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope (wk), Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Nikita Miller, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell, Chadwick Walton (wk), Kesrick Williams.
African News Agency (ANA)