Napier: The abbreviated first Test in Dunedin highlighted that West Indies are a real threat in the series which concludes in Napier from Friday. The batting of Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and an unlikely Jerome Taylor, in between the rain, showed that the visiting order will take some serious effort to be dismissed on what is expected to be an excellent surface.
According to Mathew Sinclair, the Central Districts captain and former Test batsman, the McLean Park pitch is a belter. He said it is taking very little turn and the batsmen should get ready for a long stay at the crease. This will suit the West Indians.
The home side scored 365 against the West Indies last week on a largely benign pitch in their only completed innings in the rain-shortened first Test draw in Dunedin. But apart from Daniel Flynn's accomplished 95 and Jesse Ryder's 89, most of the batsmen were guilty of failing to make the most of the conditions.
The long-running search for a successful opening batting partnership, and the retirement of key players such as former captain Stephen Fleming, Scott Styris and Craig McMillan has resulted in a new top order being formed this year.
Chanderpaul anchored the West Indies' only first Test innings, scoring a patient 76, while tailender Jerome Taylor played the starring role with a blazing 106.
All-rounder James Franklin and batsman Ross Taylor were injured during the Dunedin Test but are expected to be available for the Napier decider. The experimental video review rule is expected to come under scrutiny again after New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori and West Indies counterpart Chris Gayle both expressed reservations after the first Test.
|New Zealand||West Indies|
|Coach||Andy Moles||John Dyson|
|Key Players||Daniel Vettori, Iain O'Brien, McCullum||Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan|
Once again Oram has been ruled out by injury and will miss his fifth Test since October. The calf problem he suffered before the opening game is still bothering him, adding to his raft of injuries over the past few years.
|There are few concerns for West Indies' bowlers and they should be satisfied with the way they performed in Dunedin. Gayle told windiescricket.com he was happy with the way his team played in the match.|
|Weather||Overcast. Max: 25oC, Min: 16oC. Wind North 28 km/h . Chance of precipitation 20%. Saturday' and Sunday' chance of rain 20%.|
|Pitch||McLean Park pitch has a reputation of being friendly to batsmen and New Zealand want to show they can score big totals, especially after falling short in the two-Test series lost to Australia last month.|
|ODDS||New Zealand - 5/4, West Indies - 5/4, Drawn - 7/3|
|Head to head||Total 36, WI 10, NZ 9, Drawn 17|