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December 27, 2008
Big PictureThe results so far - two drawn Tests and a tied Twenty20 international - suggest an evenly-matched battle, but one man, Chris Gayle, could prove to be the difference between the two sides come Sunday. Twenty-five runs in the Super Over secured a lead in the two-match Twenty20 series for West Indies, but more importantly captain Gayle's mauling of Daniel Vettori, his opposition counterpart, would be at the back of New Zealand's minds when they take the field at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
The hosts will hope they can nab the in-form Gayle early on Sunday. He followed up his vital 197 in the second innings of the second Test by top-scoring with 67 in the Twenty20. A further blow to New Zealand is the absence of allrounder Scott Styris, who fractured his thumb and is expected to be out of action for six weeks.
It is not just Gayle's batting exploits. He took two wickets for 16 runs off his three overs in Auckland. The other spinners played a key role in the game as well. Left-armers Sulieman Benn and Vettori were the most economical, and hence were entrusted with the task of bowling the Super Over. Vettori leaked 25 runs in it to dull the sheen from an exceptional performance during the match, with figures of 4-0-16-3.
New Zealand will also aim to break their eight-match winless streak in Twenty20s, and with potentially only two more matches remaining before the World Twenty20 in England, Vettori said his team was aware that the time had come to start planning for the big tournament.
Twenty20 form guide (last five games, most recent first)
West Indies: TWLWL
New Zealand: TLLLL
Watch out forRoss Taylor is a clean striker of the ball, showing his prowess with four fours and four sixes in his 63 on Friday. Although not as breathtaking as Gayle's knock, it was Taylor's innings that helped New Zealand to 155. With Styris not around, New Zealand will expect Taylor to come up with the goods especially if the explosive opening pair of Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder fail to get going.
Xavier Marshall did not have a great run during the Test series, with 44 runs in three innings, but he made a useful 24-ball 27 during West Indies' chase on Friday. Marshall, who scored a 15-ball 36 to power West Indies to victory over Australia in a 11-over contest earlier this year, can turn the game around with his big hitting.
Daniel Vettori was not too pleased with two extra overs deciding a 20-over contest, and New Zealand will hope that the loss does not rankle too much since he is a formidable force with the ball in Twenty20 internationals. He has bowled his full quota of four overs in each of his ten games in the format, with 16 wickets at an average of 13.68, an economy-rate of 5.47.
Team newsWith Styris out, New Zealand have to play either Mark Gillespie or the uncapped Ewen Thompson. In the last game James Franklin managed only 2 at No. 6, batting ahead of Daniel Flynn and Vettori. Coach Andy Moles said Flynn would move up in Styris' absence.
New Zealand: (probable) 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Ross Taylor, 4 Daniel Flynn, 5 Jacob Oram, 6 James Franklin, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 Tim Southee, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Mark Gillespie, 11 Jeetan Patel.
Like Vettori, Gayle's concerns too were over the team's batting, but it is unlikely West Indies will tinker with a winning XI. Shivnarine Chanderpaul could move down the order to shore up the middle order. It remains to be seen whether Denesh Ramdin, the team's vice-captain, will get a look-in after Carlton Baugh was picked ahead of him for the first Twenty20.
West Indies: (possible) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Shivnarine Chanderpaul , 3 Xavier Marshall, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Shawn Findlay, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Carlton Baugh (wk), 8 Jerome Taylor, 9 Sulieman Benn, 10 Fidel Edwards, 11 Lionel Baker.
Stats and Trivia
Quotes"We just need to deliver the full package, and that's something we're very keen to address in Hamilton."
"I think it affects Dan [Vettori] a wee bit more because he was the guy who bowled the over [to Gayle]. For me, the proof of the pudding was the joy the crowd got out of it."
Moles thinks the one-over eliminator may not be as bad a proposition as it seems when on the losing side.
"I'm happy with the one over. It gives a bit more entertainment for the fans because they get to see one over with everyone going for it."
No issues for Gayle as well
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