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Windies place hope in new-look batting order
After doing well to level the ODI series with an injury-ravaged team, West Indies will look to end their tour on a high in their favourite format. The game in Auckland today is the first of seven T20’s that West Indies will play over the two months leading up to their World T20 title defence. The absence of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy will give their fringe players an opportunity to stake their claim for the tournament. New Zealand are smarting from defeat in the final ODI. James Neesham, the allrounder, suggested they may have been a touch complacent going into that game. It shouldn’t happen here, considering New Zealand only have these two matches in the format before the World T20, with the period in between seeing them play only 50-over and Test cricket against India.
The selectors have chosen their strongest possible squad, and the team will look to target West Indies’ unproven batting lineup. Kieran Powell and Chadwick Walton are yet to make their T20 debuts for West Indies, Andre Fletcher returns to the side after two-and-a-half years and Narsingh Deonarine has an average of 11 from eight matches. With Johnson Charles and Lendl Simmons not boasting particularly stellar records in the format either, their captain Dwayne Bravo might once again come under a lot of pressure. It brought out his best in the ODI series, in which he scored more runs and took more wickets than any of his team-mates, but he will want others to step up as well. It won’t help him that Kirk Edwards, who scored a century in the final ODI, isn’t part of the T20 squad. Two of the four matches in the drawn ODI series featured T20-style hitting. In Queenstown, Corey Anderson and Jesse Ryder went berserk in a match reduced to 21 overs a side, while Edwards and Dwayne Bravo returned the favour in the final ODI in Hamilton.
The short boundaries at Eden Park could produce similar scenes in the first of two T20Is, and will leave West Indies in a dilemma over how many spinners they play, although the drop-in pitch produced a low-scoring first ODI. New Zealand have named a 12-man squad, with Adam Milne and the allrounder James Neesham likely to fight it out for the fourth seamer’s spot.
West Indies will face a difficult call in the spin department, between legspinner Samuel Badree, who has an excellent T20 record, and left-armer Nikita Miller, who picked up a four-for in the final ODI. The presence of the seam-bowling allrounders Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell, however, might tempt them to play both Badree and Miller in a three-man spin attack with Sunil Narine.
West Indies (probable) 1 Johnson Charles, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Lendl Simmons, 4 Narsingh Deonarine/Andre Fletcher, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Nikita Miller, 10 and 11 Samuel Badree/Ravi Rampaul/Tino Best.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Brendon McCullum (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Corey Anderson, 6 Colin Munro, 7 Luke Ronchi, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Adam Milne/James Neesham, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan.