NELSON: Having suffered heavy defeats at the hands of New Zealand in both the Test (2-0) and the One-Day International series (3-0), Windies will be desperately looking to make it count in the first of three Twenty20 Internationals in Nelson Friday.
But with a number of big names missing from the roster – Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard have skipper the tour citing personal reasons, Marlon Samuels has been sidelined with an injury on his right hand and Alzarri Joseph is out with a back strain – it will not be easy for the world champion in the format .
Ronsford Beaton, recently reported for a suspect action, is also out of contention, having picked up a side strain. Replacing him in the side is Sheldon Cottrell, the left-arm pacer from Jamaica, while Shimron Hetmyer comes in for Pollard.
Chris Gayle, Carlos Brathwaite and Samuel Badree will have to play a key role in motivating the relatively inexperienced side, which includes Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton and Kesrick Williams.
“Regardless of whether we win or lose, we need to play like world champions,” Brathwaite, the captain, told reporters ahead of the series. “People in the Caribbean look to the T20 format for the success and feel good, and we need to do that. If there’s added pressure, then so be it. We have a legacy to carry on.”
New Zealand has also decided to rest Kane Williamson for the first T20I, temporarily handing the leadership responsibilities to Tim Southee. Trent Boult, who tormented Windies in the ODIs, is also on a break, which will see him miss at least the first two matches.
Colin de Granhomme, the all-rounder, is not available, having left the country to be with his family following the demise of his father. Martin Guptill is set to make a comeback, though, having missed the ODIs because of a hamstring injury, and the host has got Ross Taylor back in the T20 setup after a hiatus of almost 21 months.
Taylor, who is available to play only the first game, last turned out for New Zealand in 20-over cricket during its seven-wicket loss to England in the semifinal of the ICC World T20 2016 in India.
“They’re certainly an exciting batting line-up, some middle-order players who’ve obviously done pretty well in the IPL and the likes of (Samuel) Badree coming to the T20 gives plenty of experience in that bowling group,” Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, said. “They’re certainly a challenge for us.”
This is the first T20I being hosted at the Saxton Oval.
NEW ZEALAND: Tim Southee (capt), Ross Taylor, Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Glenn Phillips (wk), Anaru Kitchen, Tom Bruce, Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson, Doug Bracewell, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry.
WEST INDIES : Carlos Brathwaite (capt), Samuel Badree, Sheldon Cottrell, Rayad Emrit, Andre Fletcher (wk), Chris Gayle, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Shimron Hetmyer, Rovman Powell, Shai Hope, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams.