Saturday, February 24, 2018

WI bid to square T20 series


Having looked the better team for most of the ODI series, New Zealand ended up having to share the spoils after losing the final match in Hamilton. Brendon McCullum, their captain, spoke of how that loss hurt the players, and how they will need to start closing out series “if we’re serious about trying to win big tournaments”. 

Wellington offers New Zealand another opportunity to close out a series. If they don’t do that against a makeshift West Indies outfit, cobbled together in the absence of their biggest names, it makes their task in the World T20 in Bangladesh that much harder. 

Averages aren’t supposed to matter that much in T20 cricket, but they certainly do show the difference between the two teams playing this series. New Zealand have three batsmen averaging over 35, while West Indies have no one with an average higher than Dwayne Bravo’s 28.80, if you ignore Nikita Miller’s average of 43 courtesy four not outs in five innings. 

West Indies are without Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy, but questions can still be asked of their selectors, considering the fact that their team in Auckland contained three wicketkeeper-batsmen (and their squad contains a fourth, Denesh Ramdin). Clearly, the lack of specialist batsmen is hurting West Indies, and that might continue in Wellington. 

West Indies, however, possess a decent bowling attack. A heavy defeat in Auckland might cause them to reconsider playing three spinners, but that, apart from a rare off day for Sunil Narine, wasn’t the reason they conceded 189. Narine, Samuel Badree and Miller could well prove their best hope of restricting New Zealand at a venue where spinners have an economy rate of 6.34 and seamers 8.04. 

What West Indies might need to reconsider is their seam attack. Tino Best and Andre Russell were ineffectual in Auckland, and the team management will wonder if they should field Jason Holder in place of one of them.        —Cricinfo