West Indies' preparations for the first Test in Dunedin, starting on Thursday, have been hampered by the poor weather, but captain Chris Gayle is optimistic about his team's prospects ahead of the two-match series.
"We are up against a good team and you have to say it is even-stevens. The two teams are evenly matched and these Test matches will be very vital for us. We are eagerly looking forward to the matches," Gayle said. "We are here and we have a job to do. We are committed and we will be looking to put our plans in place and get the better of New Zealand."
West Indies are currently ranked No. 7 in the ICC Test rankings, a place above New Zealand, who slipped to eighth after their 2-0 loss in Australia. The visitors, though, may be a bit undercooked; they have had only one practice game heading into the Tests, and steady rain forced them to train indoors on Tuesday. The conditions are unlikely to improve on Wednesday.
However, Gayle was upbeat over the team's bowling attack, and has backed them to fire against a under performing New Zealand batting line-up. "We have quite a few fast bowlers and I trust them to get the job done. We will be looking to set them back early and look to move on from there."
As usual, Gayle was straightforward with his responses and said the batsmen will have to battle hard in bowler-friendly conditions. "Whatever comes across we have to deal with it. The ball will swing and most of us have been playing for sometime now so we have to use our skill and experience to deal with the New Zealand bowlers. It is nothing new … we just have to face what they send down."
Despite the conditions, Gayle is unlikely to curb his attacking instinct at the top of the order. "I am just taking it step by step, but at the same time I plan to be myself out there. I am maturing and there is more responsibility but the mindset will be to play positive cricket."