HAMILTON – The Windies will brace itself for another trial by bouncers as it faces New Zealand in the second and final Test of the series, starting in Hamilton on Saturday.
Neil Wagner, the chief destroyer in the first Test in Wellington, registered the fourth-best bowling figures ever for New Zealand with 7 for 39 in the first innings, as the home side romped to a win by an innings and 67 runs.
The big change in the Windies team is that Kraigg Brathwaite, who top-scored for the side with 91 in the second innings, will be leading the team after Jason Holder, the regular captain, was suspended for a Test and fined for a slow over-rate.
Brathwaite said Windies had settled on an uncomplicated plan to try to level the series. “Stick to the basics. You don't have to overcomplicate it. Get a big first innings total, and obviously (it) will help us go far in the game a lot better.”
Meanwhile, Tim Southee, who missed the first Test for the birth of his second child, is available for selection for the second game. Yet, New Zealand isn't resting on its laurels. It is well aware of how Windies bounced back in England four months ago, posting a five-wicket win in the second Test thereafter succumbing to an innings loss in the first match.
“We know they came back hard against England when they lost the first game, and I'm sure they'll do that again in this match,” said Ross Taylor.
The Seddon Park pitch has a reputation for being batsmen-friendly, and that is likely to put a focus on the race between Taylor and Kane Williamson, the captain, to become New Zealand's most prolific century-maker.
The record of 17 is shared by the late Martin Crowe and Williamson, with Taylor one behind on 16. Taylor has scored three centuries and Williamson two in the past six Tests at Seddon Park, which is the home ground for both players.
Incidentally, Taylor was looking good for his 17th hundred in the first Test when he fell for 93 while Williamson was out for one.
“I know if I go through the right preparation, give myself the best chance and continually do that, I'll be able to get to 17, 18 or whatever,” explained Taylor. “Seventeen is the benchmark that Hogan wanted me to get to and beat, beat his amount that he got, but he said also carry on and don't stop there.”