Coming to internationals after 9 months, New Zealand had an eccentric opponent in the form of West Indies to face. The hosts resumed international cricket after an unusually long patch of inactivity, and no one needs to be told courtesy what. These are strange times, indeed, and stranger is West Indies’ story when it comes to the shortest version of the game. And nothing better than Andre Fletcher’s statement before the first game explains that.
“It’s sometimes tough – winning two T20 World Cups and ranking No. 9 in the world is kind of off-balance, but I believe we’ll get back up there in the rankings.” Unfortunately, Fletcher’s belief was dented further as the 5-wicket loss has pushed West Indies below Afghanistan in the ICC Men’s T20I rankings.
It is anything but strange to know that the defending champions of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup occupy such a contrasting position in the rankings. And it is such unpredictability that the format brings to the table. Wasn’t the first game emblematic of the nature of short-format cricket? The game had many elements in it that make T20 cricket a marketable good.
The stand-in skipper Tim Southee invited the visitors to bat first only for his bowlers to be pummelled left, right, and centre. The Windies were cruising at a stage, and rather dauntingly. If you were Southee at the 3-over mark, you would answer the question “Did I made the wrong choice at toss?” in the affirmative. But stagnancy is what this format evades the best.
It took as many overs for New Zealand to barge inside the game and throw West Indies into the direst position. At 60/5 after 6, the opponents’ skipper Kieron Pollard, who would have been ecstatic by his team’s start, had clouds of worry hovering over his head. Quite frustratingly for all, those were not the only clouds at Eden Park, and the many rain interruptions did no good for either side.
Momentum swung towards West Indies when Pollard joined Fabien Allen in the middle to take his team to a score of substance. Although, as Pollard admitted that “a bit of indiscipline” was shown by his bowlers, that was sufficient to hand over the hosts a 1-0 lead in the series. Speaking of indiscipline, West Indies were not guilty alone, and the Kiwis must be repenting that they could not wrap things up despite dismissing the top-order inside the Powerplay.
For now, with the series on the line, the 2nd T20I to be played tomorrow at Mount Maunganui promises to be an enthralling encounter.
Pitch and conditions
The ground dimensions at the Bay Oval, unlike the Eden Park, are far better and therefore, the bowlers can breathe slightly easier. Though only slightly, because the track has often been known for assisting the batsmen, and with plenty of power-hitters on both the sides, nothing would be served on the platter for the bowlers.
Playing combinations for NZ vs WI
Debutant Devon Conway opened his account promisingly after Martin Guptill fell cheaply and Tim Seifert threw his wicket after getting a start. Glenn Phillips, who popped out his kneecap, and popped it back in, did not have a long outing, though his cameo eventually proved crucial.
Much like Conway, Kyle Jamieson had a decent debut too, though he was unable to take a wicket in his opening match. Hamish Bennett had a horrific run and he would want to forget that coming into this encounter. The man of the hour, Lockie Ferguson, would want to put up a similar show after his fifer in the last game.
Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (WK), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Ross Taylor, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, Hamish Bennett
The middle-order woes have plagued West Indies for far too long, and the story was no different on Friday. Their batting order has no dearth of ballast but West Indies would dislike that the same could not be said when it comes to commitment. Though Andre Fletcher got them off to a flier, 1 run is all that the middle-order (comprising Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, and Rovman Powell) could muster.
Skipper Pollard would want that to change this time around. What he would want to change as well, is the lack of discipline with the ball. Kesrick Williams and Keemo Paul leaked 72 runs in their 5 overs combined in the last game.
Probable XI: Andre Fletcher, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Shimron Hetmyer, Rovman Powell, Kieron Pollard (C), Keemo Paul, Fabian Allen, Kesrick Williams, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas
NZ vs WI Head to Head
Played – 14 | NZ –8 | WI – 5 | NR – 1
NZ vs WI Broadcast details
Match Timings- 6:30 AM (IST), 02:00 PM (Local)
Live Streaming– Fancode