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West Indies on guard

Carl Hooper expects New Zealand to come bouncing back for this weekend's back-to-back matches in St Lucia after their disappointing batting performance in the opening rain-ruined Cable & Wireless One-Day International

Haydn Gill
Carl Hooper expects New Zealand to come bouncing back for this weekend's back-to-back matches in St Lucia after their disappointing batting performance in the opening rain-ruined Cable & Wireless One-Day International.
The West Indies cricket captain said here after Wednesday's abandoned match at Sabina Park that the tourists' preparations might have been one of the reasons for their modest all out total of 176 in 49.4 overs..
I thought we bowled well, fielded well and caught well. That's important, but having said that, we were under no illusions, Hooper said.
This was New Zealand's first run out. They were off the international scene for quite a while. They would have been short of work. We've got to push this behind us.
New Zealand, one of the most under-rated sides in world cricket, have not had the most ideal preparations.
Their recent tour of Pakistan was cut short by a bomb blast outside their Karachi hotel a few hours before the start of the second Test and, on arriving in the Caribbean, they were kept indoors for a few days because of rain.
They are not going to be as easy to knock over in the next game, Hooper said.
We expect that the competition is going to get much harder as they slowly get acclimatised to conditions.
West Indies and New Zealand have not met on many occasions in the past decade, and because of their recent series against India, Hooper's men might not have had ample time to do their homework on their opponents.
We just managed to get some footage of the last series against Pakistan and a few Test matches against England, Hooper said.
That is the only footage we've got about the New Zealand players, but I'm sure as we go on we'll learn a bit more about them, just as they will learn something about us.
Hooper himself has never played a Test against the Black Caps, who inflicted a 2-0 Test series and 5-0 One-Day International series triumphs when the West Indies toured New Zealand in 1999.
We are excited about playing against New Zealand. We don't play against them too often. The last time we played them in New Zealand, we got a drubbing and we want to do well this time around, he said.
While Hooper might not have played against them in the longer version of the game, he has seen enough of them to know their value.
The New Zealand side I have been seeing for the last few years is a side that plays together and they fight really hard, he said.
Their recent run, however, especially in limited-overs matches has been unimpressive.
Prior to Wednesday's match, which was abandoned without the West Indies having a chance to chase their target because of rain, New Zealand had lost each of their last six One-Day Internationals, and all told, 13 of their previous 17 matches.
Their only meaningful match practice ahead of this series was a 50-overs-match against a University of the West Indies Vice-Chancellor's XI at the Frank Worrell Oval on Monday.
To get out on the field, therefore, did have some benefit in spite of Wednesday's washout.
We had another 50 overs in the field. We are short of a gallop with the preparation we've had here. Just being outside was probably the best scenario for us in a way, New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said.
One of the many New Zealand batsman who failed to get going at Sabina Park, Fleming praised the quality of the West Indies' bowling on the pitch that offered assistance in the early stages.
I felt they bowled extremely well. I thought they got good bounce, which might have suggested there might have been moisture in the wicket underneath, he said.
They had great control. That comes from playing a lot of cricket and playing a good batting side like India.
West Indies went into the match with all-rounder Ryan Hinds in preference to fast bowler Corey Collymore, who was used in all three matches against India.
The Indians are much better players of spin, hence why we used four quicks against them, Hooper explained.
No disrespect to the New Zealanders, but they are probably not as fluent against the spin as the Indians. We thought somebody, like Ryan Hinds, who has been sitting on the sidelines for quite a while, should be given the opportunity to play.