New Zealand will begin their first bilateral series against the West Indies after a long break of 8 months due to the deadly novel coronavirus. Last time, New Zealand hosted India in a full-fledged series with 5 T20Is, 3 ODIs, and two tests from 2nd February to 3rd March.
Although New Zealand, as a nation, had controlled coronavirus cases very early in June, no other country was ready to play with them due to the growing corona cases in their respective countries.
Before this pandemic, New Zealand had to host West Indies and Bangladesh, but the series was pushed back further (due to the COVID-19 crisis); hence, they got the window of postponed ICC T20 World cup, which was scheduled in the November-December period. Therefore, the West Indies will play 3 T20Is and two Tests starting from 27th November to 15th December.
New Zealand has rested their regular skipper Kane Willamson in the T20Is as he is coming from the competitive IPL tournament. Tim Southee will lead the side in the absence of Kane.
New Zealand’s pace-bowling duo of Boult-Wagner looks lethal, and with the addition of the tall, lanky fast bowler Kyle Jamieson, their bowling looks even more deadly at home.
They had defeated India 2-0 in the home series in Feb 2020. The Kiwi pacers were too good for Indian batters to last long in the crease as we saw matches finishing in just 3 to 4 days.
New Zealand T20I Squad: Tim Southee (c), Hamish Bennett, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Seifert (wk), Ross Taylor
New Zealand Test Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wk), Will Young
West Indies didn’t win a single match when they last toured New Zealand in 2017-18. Their batting miserably failed in all three formats barring a few matches in the last tour.
West Indies’ newly appointed vice-captain Roston Chase has emphasized the need for improvement in the batting department.
“What I would like to see improve overall is the batting of the team. I think that our bowlers have been doing brilliantly for us, but we have not been getting big enough scores for them to bowl at,” Chase told members of the media from the team’s training camp in New Zealand.
He added, “The first innings sets up the game for the whole Test match. Once you put the team under pressure with a good first inning total, they’ll always be chasing the game, and that is a good thing to have the opposition doing in Test cricket…as a batting unit, we need to give the bowlers more to work with.”
West Indies will take the England tour confidence in July, where they won the first test by brilliant batting performances.
We have some good performances from Windies batsmen in the recent practice match against New Zealand A. Darren Bravo, who missed the last England tour, is back with some runs under his belt as he scored 135 runs in 214 deliveries, whereas Shamarh Brooks has scored 80 in 152 balls. Kraigg Brathwaite had got a good start with 47 runs but failed to capitalize on it.
West Indies has a great opportunity to win the T20I series as it suits their batting style. The grounds in New Zealand are also small enough to allow the Windies batters to smash deliveries out of the park.
West Indies T20I Squad: Kieron Pollard (c), Fabian Allen, Romario Shepherd, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams
West Indies Test Squad: Jason Holder (c), Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Chemar Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Keemo Paul, Kemar Roach
How important is this test series for both teams?
The test series’ importance is high as there are only two test matches, and according to the new ICC Test Championship points system, if a team wins both the matches, they get 100% points, which will boost the team’s overall percentages.
Overall, New Zealand has 50% and is in the 4th spot in the ICC Test Championship Points table. A win with 100% against West Indies will boost their overall percentage to 62.5, hence making them strong contenders for a spot in the finals at Lords.
Note: They also have 2 Test matches against Pakistan after this tour.
On the other hand, West Indies is languishing at the bottom half of the points table (7th position) with an overall percentage of just 16.67.
Winning both Test matches adds up the percentage to 44.4. To be a part of the final, they need to win almost every test match from here and depend on other teams as well.
Note: After this NZ tour, they have 2 Test series against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at home, respectively.
Overall, Kiwis will be favorites to dominate throughout the tour. However, it will be a huge surprise if the Windies come out of the tour without a single win in any format.
They have the ability to win the T20Is, and if the Test batters bat long and show temperament, there is a possibility that Windies could upset New Zealand in their own backyard.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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