By Ravendra Madholall
West Indies and New Zealand will begin the three-match T20 series on Wednesday at Sabina Park, Jamaica and a fascinating showdown is expected.
West Indies are certainly low in confidence in the aftermath of suffering a massive series loss, 1-4 to India, the incumbent number 1 ranked side in the World recently at home.
Much to the consternation too for West Indies they have been at number 7 on the rankings in comparison to the Black-Caps who are holding the fifth spot. Despite the trouncing against the formidable Indians, West Indies have continued to take out a lot of positives from the series but better effort against New Zealand is desperately needed if they can avert any possibility of another series drubbing.
For the Kiwis, they are at full strength, and that is firm indication that they are ready for business from ball one in the reggae island. Undoubtedly, New Zealand would want to fire in all cylinders and use this trip as part of their preparations for the next International Cricket Council T20 World Cup which is slated to roll off October 16 in Australia.
West Indies would definitely start off proceedings with the same level of mentality with the aim to reclaim the prestigious trophy; excellent cricket is required in every aspect of their game and more importantly bring some confidence ahead of the mega event. Their batting was pathetic for most of the time against India’s potent bowling while their bowlers had lacked consistency whatsoever.
Skipper Nicolas Pooran will be asked to lead from the front with the bat. He is known as an aggressive player and this version suits the Trinidadian well. His captaincy has come under scrutiny though after three series beating in succession, but a chance for him to show proper leadership. His batting colleagues have also been inconsistent.
The likes of Kyle Mayers, Brandon King, Rovman Powell, Shimron Hetmyer and Devon Thomas have got to step up and produce more substantial scores. The bowling did not show any sort of prowess too and with the global cricket showpiece around the corner, more consistency and penetration in this exciting format needed especially when you have to defend small targets.
Pacers Alzarri Joseph, Jason Holder and Romario Shepherd along with seamer Odean Smith, Keemo Paul, Mayers and Dominic Drakes could form a good combination especially on this responsive track. All three matches will be played in Jamaica and with their familiarity with conditions, better results should prevail in addition to the left-arm orthodox spinner Akeal Hosein.
Meanwhile, the two teams will also engage in a three-match one-day series as soon as the shortest version completes. For the T20 series: August 10th, 12th and 14th. For the one-day series: August 17th, 19th and 21st.
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