NZL v WI, 1st Test Preview: The Blackcaps prepare for a tricky Windies challenge

NZL v WI, 1st Test Preview: The Blackcaps prepare for a tricky Windies challenge

Taking their recent records into account, New Zealand clearly is ahead of them despite losing both the series in India.

West Indies
West Indies. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Windies are no more a force to reckon with in the longest format of the game, a harsh, yet inevitable and indigestible reality for the fans. There was a time when no one had enough courage to face them, but here they are now, facing all sorts of predicaments. After triumphing in Zimbabwe, they are now heading to New Zealand for a full-fledged series, which kicks off with the Tests.

The Kiwis are quite a force to reckon with and they received a lot of praises for the fighting spirit they showed in India, despite losing the series. They are a confident unit who always look to give their best and to face them on their turf ain’t an easy job. Skipper Williamson hasn’t been amongst the runs, but now he has a great chance to set things straight.

Taking their recent records into account, New Zealand clearly is ahead of them despite losing both the series in India. Windies did manage to win the Test series in Zimbabwe, but can that be termed good enough to call them favorites? No! Yet, they are an unpredictable side and the Kiwis should be at their best if they are to pull off the result they’re expected to.

New Zealand (Playing XI): Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell, Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.

Windies (Predicted XI): Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Sunil Ambris (WK), Jason Holder (C), Devendra Bishoo, Kemar Roach, Shanon Gabriel

Focus will be on

Tom Latham (New Zealand)

One of the finest and underrated openers across the globe, Tom Latham has set high benchmarks for his opening competitors. In the last one year, the southpaw has been accumulating a lot of runs and he has been one of their best batters across all formats. Whilst a few Blackcaps’ players struggled against the spinners in India, he was outstanding against them. Latham is big threat to watch out for the Windies as he has the tendency to bat for ages.

Shai Hope (Windies)

The West Indian side did look hopeless when they traveled to England for a Test series. But with Shai Hope’s twin centuries in Headingley, they managed to pull off a spectacular result in that game, despite losing the series. Shai Hope has been amassing runs on the most complicated and trickiest of tracks, making him one of the finest batters from the Caribbean Islands. They need him to fire if they are to walk off their country with some decent results.

Playing combinations

New Zealand

Indian origin Jeet Raval will open the batting alongside Tom Latham for the hosts. Skipper Kane Williamson and their most experienced player Ross Taylor will come in at number 3 and 4. They have a bunch of talented youngsters to follow in the middle order like George Worker, Tom Blundell, Henry Nicholls, and Mitchell Santner.

Tim Southee’s absense will be a huge blow, but Trent Boult still has a great company to be at his best. Lockie Ferguson is one of the fastest bowlers in the world and also joining him would be the very talented Matt Henry. Santner will be their fourth bowler and they have some part-timers in Williamson and Nicholls.

Windies

One of the few batters the skipper can rely upon, Kraigg Brathwaite, will kick-start the innings alongside Kieran Powell. Kyle Hope won’t be getting any more chances in the coming future at number 3 after his dismal run and replacing him would be Shimron Hetmyer. Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Sunil Ambris, and Jermaine Blackwood will follow up next.

Skipper Jason Holder has been contributing heavily both with the bat and bal. Once again, he will be eager to contribute as much as he can. His two pacers Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach blended wonderfully together in Zimbabwe and he will be hoping for more of such brilliance. Roston Chase and Devendra Bishoo will be the two spinners in the playing XI.

StatAttack

79 – Shai Hope is 79 runs short of 1,000 Test runs.

28 – New Zealand’s winning percentage at the First Test’s vennue, the Basin Reserve, is just 28% after 60 Tests.

34 – Roston Chase needs another 34 runs to complete 1,000 Test runs.