NZ aim to bury brittle Windies
December 19-23, 2013, Hamilton
Start time 10.30am (2130GMT previous day)
The Big Picture
It was always suspected that New Zealand would be too good against West Indies in home conditions. Then came the Dunedin fightback. Perhaps the visitors could offer a sterner challenge. Then came Wellington. No they couldn't, at least over those three days.
There is nothing to be ashamed about in losing against swing, seam and a hint of bounce, but West Indies didn't look up for the fight on the third day at the Basin save for the second-innings opening stand. That is what has frustrated Ottis Gibson the most. He wants the fight back. If you then lose to a better team, fair enough.
New Zealand are the better team in these conditions (the return series in the Caribbean next year may be different) but that gives them the added pressure of not slipping up in Hamilton. There was such a vast margin between the teams last week it's barely possible to see it happening, but it only takes one batting collapse even though they are becoming rare at home for New Zealand.
Against England they went into the final Test at 0-0 and dominated the match from start to finish only to be denied at the end. This time, they have a lead they are desperate not to surrender, but it is not Brendon McCullum's way to play defensive cricket - this is also a West Indies team on the back foot and ripe for the taking.
(Most recent first)
New Zealand WDDDL
West Indies LDLLW
Watch out for
The only New Zealand batsman to make hundreds in three consecutive Tests is Mark Burgess - spread over nearly three years from 1969 to 1972 against three teams; Pakistan, England and West Indies. Given the form Ross Taylor has shown in this series, and the doses of fortune that have gone his way, don't bet against him achieving that feat. If Taylor can score 38 runs in this Test he will become only the third New Zealand batsman, after Andrew Jones and Glenn Turner, to make 400 runs in a three-Test series.
With Shane Shillingford suspended from bowling, Sunil Narine will make his return to the Test team. A record of 15 wickets in five matches at 48.06 does not shout out matchwinner, but at least he'll bring his tricky set of deliveries. In one-dayers, the skid he generates is a significant weapon and on a grassy surface that could be something in his favour. However, he has not bowled in a first-class match (of which he has still only played 12) since March this year when he took 10 wickets in the match against Guyana.
Brendon McCullum confirmed an unchanged XI. Corey Anderson was the one minor doubt but his shin problem isn't major. Neil Wagner is under some pressure, but an injury to Doug Bracewell and his second-innings spell in Wellington means he will keep his place.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Hamish Rutherford, 2 Peter Fulton, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt), 6 Corey Anderson, 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Ish Sodhi, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult
Options are few-and-far between for West Indies. Narine will replace Shillingford, while Sheldron Cottrell for Shannon Gabriel is one possible switch. If they wanted to take a gamble they could still play two frontline spinners, calling in left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul.
West Indies (probable) 1 Kieran Powell, 2 Kirk Edwards, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Narsingh Deonarine, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Tino Best, 11 Shannon Gabriel
Pitch and conditions
Five of New Zealand's likely team play their domestic cricket for Northern Districts, so will know what to expect. BJ Watling, one of those, said a couple of types of surfaces have been tried this year; a drier pitch which proved pretty flat and one with more grass where the opposition were bowled out for less than 100. Perhaps something in the middle for the Test? The forecast is for most of the Test is warm and sunny.
Stats and trivia
- New Zealand's previous series victory against anyone other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe came against West Indies in 2005-06
- Tim Southee needs six wickets to reach 100 in Tests - he took six playing for Northern Districts at Hamilton in November
- West Indies' only previous Test at Seddon Park came in 1999 when they lost by nine wickets despite an opening stand of 276 in the first innings.
"Feeling everyone experienced in the dressing room the other day after that Test win is something that people hold onto as a motivating factor every time they rock up and play another Test."
Brendon McCullum does not want the winning feeling to be a one-off
"With the new developments we have put so many different scenarios on the table so tonight we'll definitely come up with what we think will be the suitable or right mix for us before 10am when I put on my jacket and go to toss."
Darren Sammy admits there are some selection headaches
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo