Confident West Indies eye rare series win
Match factsWednesday, July 11
Start time 0930 (1330 GMT)
Big PictureMuch has been said about New Zealand's preparation for their tour of the West Indies not being ideal. What could have gone wrong for them, has. They were already missing a key player or two; they went ahead and had injuries galore. They were expected to be hammered. They have been so far.
But New Zealand have always fought their way through constraints of all kinds throughout their cricketing history. A wafer-thin player base, lack of funds, not many prodigious talents, you name it. 'Punching above their weight' has become second nature to them. Which is why it was even more disappointing to see them not show much fight so far on this tour.
Can they show some of that fight tomorrow? Can they play like the New Zealand we have come to know? It takes only one delivery to get even Chris Gayle out. Who knows how the West Indies middle order, full of hard-hitting allrounders, will tackle that situation, something they haven't faced in the past four games?
You would think that is the only factor West Indies have to manage. They seem to have pretty much everything else under control, and have their first ODI series win against top Test-level opposition in more than four years within sight.
Form guideWest Indies WWLLL (completed games, most recent first)
New Zealand LLLLL
Watch out for...Nathan McCullum has said the New Zealand bowlers have made some plans for Chris Gayle that they "are pretty sure are going to work". That looks like asking a lot of an attack that has managed to take just six wickets in two games. But that could also be New Zealand's only chance. A batting line-up that relies on an international rookie like BJ Watling to be its top-scorer for two games running does not inspire any confidence at all.
The West Indies batting, barring Gayle, hasn't been tested all that much. While there have been creditable supporting acts from Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Smith, it has been Gayle who has been the driving force of the line-up. He now has five scores of fifty-plus from six innings since making his international comeback. He can't go on like this. The early dismissal will happen, maybe tomorrow, and it will be interesting to watch the approach of the other batsmen then.
Team newsAgain, barring injuries, there seems to be no reason why West Indies would want to change a winning XI. Unless they want to replace the struggling Lendl Simmons and bring Johnson Charles in at the top. Darren Sammy did mention after the second ODI that he could be the one to be rested later in the series, but it probably will not be for a potential series-decider.
West Indies: (possible) 1 Lendl Simmons/Johnson Charles, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Dwayne Smith, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Sunil Narine
Brendon McCullum was expected to join the squad less than 24 hours before the start of Wednesday's game, and it will be asking too much to expect him to play. "We'll see how he feels," the coach John Wright told New Zealand reporters earlier. "It's a long journey [from New Zealand], that may be a little bit tight." New Zealand have the option of handing an ODI debut to left-arm fast bowler Trent Boult to beef up the attack, something Wright hinted they could go in for. Unfortunately, there are no options left to beef up the batting.
New Zealand: (possible) 1 Rob Nicol, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Daniel Flynn, 4 Kane Williamson (capt), 5 Dean Brownlie/Tom Latham, 6 BJ Watling (wk), 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Tim Southee, 9 & 10 Nathan McCullum/Tarun Nethula/Trent Boult, 11 Kyle Mills
Stats and trivia
- Lendl Simmons averages 9.00 this year from four ODIs and two Twenty20s
- Kyle Mills needs two more wickets to overtake Chris Harris as the second-highest wicket-taker in ODIs for New Zealand, behind Daniel Vettori
Quotes"At the end of the day we've just got to get him out."
Nathan McCullum, the New Zealand offspinner, on the task that has seemed beyond his side so far - dismissing Chris Gayle
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.