Cricket

New Zealand start favorites against troubled Windies


NZ VS WI

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New Zealand lead the two-match series 1-0 after an innings win in Wellington. © Getty

Windies’ woes in the longest format of the game has not abated. After losing the first Test against New Zealand by an innings and 67 runs, they were also penalised for a slow over-rate. That penalty sees their captain Jason Holder being suspended for the second Test with Kraigg Brathwaite set to lead in his absence.

Their compounding woes see New Zealand sitting pretty in the two-Test series. The hosts had a string of good performances led by Neil Wagner’s bouncer-infused seven-wicket haul and centuries by Colin de Grandhomme and debutant Tom Blundell. The others who missed out in that game may well look at the second one as a chance to make their mark.

Leading that list will be their skipper Kane Williamson, who fell for 1 to a gully-trap in the first Test. Williamson has not been short of Test runs but New Zealand’s frugal opportunities in the format will only enhance the pressure on him to score big when he gets the chance. Opener Jeet Raval, who has five fifties in eight Tests, will also be looking at it as a chance to improve on the duck in the hundreds column. Clearly, New Zealand’s problems are not as serious as the ones faced by their opponents.

With Holder’s absence, Brathwaite who has led Windies in age-group cricket, will have the honour of leading the Test team as well. He will have to make a few tricky calls going into the game. Leading his list of worries will be the replacement for Holder. Will the Windies go for another pacer or look at Devendra Bishoo’s legspin for some variety? Even that choice is relatively less troublesome than the ones faced by the batsmen, who will have to tackle the swing of Trent Boult and the short-pitched barrage from Wagner. Technical deficiencies cannot be ironed out in the gap between Tests but Windies can take heart from an improved batting show in the second innings of the first Test where they managed 319. That it wasn’t still enough to avoid an innings defeat tells the tale of the gulf between the two teams.

When: New Zealand vs Windies, 2nd Test starts at 11:00 AM Local Time

Where: Seddon Park, Hamilton

What to expect: With short boundaries, Seddon Park is a ground that will entice the hitters. But the conditions forecast ought to give the bowlers some hope. There is some rain predicted apart from cloudy conditions for the first three days.

Team news:

New Zealand

BJ Watling is still sidelined by an injury and Blundell’s good start eases that headache for New Zealand. Tim Southee is back in the squad after missing the first Test for the birth of his daughter. Matt Henry might have to make way for him despite a three-wicket haul in the second innings.

Probable XI: Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Blundell (wk), Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult

Windies

The main concern will be the replacement for Jason Holder. Windies have three options there – legspinner Bishoo, right arm pacer Alzarri Joseph or uncapped left-arm allrounder Raymon Reifer. There hasn’t been indication of who could be in the final eleven. Middle order batsman Sunil Ambris, who had a forgettable debut with scores of 0 and 18, will be also under the scanner with Jermaine Blackwood waiting in the sidelines.

Squad: Kraigg Brathwaite(c), Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shannon Gabriel, Shane Dowrich, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach

What they said

I am quite excited, not the ideal situation. I think Jason has been doing a fantastic job, so my job is to carry on what he’s doing – Windies’ stand-in skipper Kraigg Brathwaite

Kane (Williamson) will probably end up with about 40 (hundreds), so we’ll just work it out after that – Ross Taylor, who is one short of equalling New Zealand’s record of 17 Test tons

© Cricbuzz

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