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June 25, 2014
'A chance of something special' - McCullum
New Zealand's batsmen are on notice after one bad session in Trinidad, but the captain Brendon McCullum still believes his men can achieve "something special" and take the series decider in Barbados. West Indies and New Zealand enter the third and final match with the series tied at 1-1 and it is the hosts who have the momentum after their strong 10-wicket victory in Trinidad.
That result was set up by the success of the West Indies bowlers on the first day, when New Zealand collapsed from 120 for 1 to be all out for 221. McCullum said he expected more from the batting group in Barbados, where the likelihood of a quicker surface has not only meant the inclusion of Neil Wagner for Ish Sodhi, but should mean that once a batsman has got himself in, runs are there for the taking.
"It looks like it's pretty good batting surface with some bounce and it should have some decent carry even though there's not a lot of grass," McCullum said on the eve of the match. "Hopefully it holds throughout the game and should be able to aid the fast bowlers.
"Either way there looks a little bit in it for the bowlers but also it looks like the kind of surface that if you get in on, because it's got good pace bounce and the outfield is fast, you can score some runs as well."
There was no shortage of runs from New Zealand in the first Test in Jamaica, where centuries from Kane Williamson and Jimmy Neesham pushed the total to 508 before McCullum's declaration came. In Trinidad, though, it was the West Indies batsmen who showed the patience to graft out a big total and emerged victorious.
"We've batted really well over the last 12 to 18 months and posted those scores in excess of 400 and every time we've done so we've either won or drawn a Test match," McCullum said. "So we know that's a key stat for us and we've got to make sure we try and execute that again. Sometimes you have bad days as a batting group.
"We talked about that after that last Test match, we had one bad session where West Indies bowlers to their credit bowled well and we didn't apply ourselves as well as we should have done. We're on notice too. We've got to make sure we stick to our key fundamentals and get ourselves a big first-innings score."
Should New Zealand manage to win in Barbados, it would mark their first series win away from home since they toured Bangladesh in 2008, excluding the one-off Test against Zimbabwe in 2011. Only once this century have they beaten anyone but Zimbabwe or Bangladesh in a series away from home - when Stephen Fleming's men took a 1-0 result over two Tests in the Caribbean in 2002.
"It certainly sets it up well and gives us a real chance of achieving something special," McCullum said. "A series win, if we are able to achieve it, would be something that everyone in this squad, players and management included, would hold dearly for the rest of their lives. Certainly for all of us it's a huge opportunity."
However, the West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin is confident that his men will take the momentum from Trinidad, where they posted 460 in the first innings and then cruised to their target of 93 in the second innings without losing a wicket.
"It was important that we won in Trinidad, but what was also important was that we put in an impressive display," Ramdin said. "We dominated ... we got good runs on the board and then our bowlers got 20 wickets, which was also very good. It was a hard fought Test match and we will bring that with us."
The occasion also marks the 50th Test match played at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, a venue that has brought West Indies only 10 defeats - although seven of those 10 have come in the past 11 matches.
"Kensington Oval is one of those special grounds ... a place where you always look forward to coming and playing," Ramdin said. "It is one of the top grounds around the West Indies and in the world and we will be looking to do something special to mark the landmark of 50 Test matches here.
"I have done well here - I made my highest score Test score here against England and my highest first-class score for Trinidad and Tobago here as well. So personally, I always look forward to coming to Barbados and playing here. It is a good hunting ground for me and once I get that opportunity I will look to bat time and get the runs on the board for my team."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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