Top-order troubles haunt New Zealand
New Zealand will look to remedy their top-order troubles at Christchurch on Saturday as they seek to clinch the five-game one-day series against the beleaguered West Indies with a third straight win.
New Zealand came close to imploding in the second match on Wednesday when they slumped to 13 for 4 while chasing the modest target of 200, and it was left to Peter Fulton, Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori in the middle order to step in with a rescue act.
Opener Jamie How, who made 66 in the first match and a duck in the second, is being left out on Saturday as New Zealand's selectors look to expand their squad of match-hardened players ahead of next year's World Cup. But Stephen Fleming, the captain, denied Friday the insinuation by West Indies vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan that New Zealand's approach to rotation revealed an "over-confident" team.
"We won't compromise the game. Certainly from my point of view we can't afford to, we're not that good," Fleming said.
"I think it's been good for the first two games with everybody contributing, but it's back to the top five or six getting the majority of the runs and giving the guys down below the freedom to ice the cake instead of having to win the match," Fleming added.
"And we've got work to do at the top. They've got a good opening attack with reasonable bowlers and if we don't bat well, they will expose us again, so it's up to the batters to get runs."
Sarwan acknowledged it was time for West Indies' experienced top order to perform after a poor start to the tour. "We have stressed how important partnerships are and I don't think one individual player could do it," Sarwan said.
"But it's more or less the senior players. The first five in the batting line-up, they have to take the responsibility to get a big score and if one of us can get a big score, we should be able to post a decent total."
New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (captain), Lou Vincent, Nathan Astle, Scott Styris, Peter Fulton, Hamish Marshall, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, James Franklin, Shane Bond, Michael Mason, Jeetan Patel.
West Indies (from): Shivnarine Chanderpaul (captain), Chris Gayle, Daren Ganga, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Runako Morton, Wavell Hinds, Dwayne Smith, Denesh Ramdin, Dwayne Bravo, Ian Bradshaw, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards, Rawl Lewis, Deighton Butler.