PREVIEW: WI look to draw first blood
KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – West Indies will start the Digicel One-Day Series against New Zealand, full of confiudence as they look to draw first blood when the five-match rubber bowls off on Thursday.
Captain Darren Sammy outlined the team plan when he said: “We’re just looking for consistency... For the past few series we’ve had at home we haven’t started well. We’ve always played catch up. Right here in Jamaica we’re just looking to start off well, make sure we cover all three disciplines – batting, bowling and fielding – and look to put out a professional performance out there.”
West Indies have become known as notoriously slow starters, often having to battle back from deficits in order to compete. Against Australia earlier this year, West Indies lost the opening ODI before fighting back to take a 2-1 lead in the series, which eventually finished in a 2-2 stalemate after the third match was tied.
The Windies will be seeking to use the momentum from winning last weekend’s Twenty20 doubleheader in Florida, to draw first blood against the Black Caps. Sammy said his side would be focussed on building on that performance.
“In the first game the wicket was really good but we bowled a few boundary balls. We started off overs very well but by the fifth and six balls we eased off the pressure by bowling a boundary ball so probably we could work on that,” Sammy explained.
“All in all I like the way the guys have been working and we’re just looking to continue to improve with every game.
“Once we go out there and play to our full potential we could beat any team in the world. We’ve got a strong batting line up and we’ve got good bowlers to defend whatever we post. Once we play to our full potential we could be a destructive force.”
West Indies enter the series looking to overhaul New Zealand who are one point above them in seventh in the international one-day rankings. However, they will need to reverse their record against the Kiwis as they have not won a bi-lateral series against them in ten years.
For the second straight series, the Windies have been labelled as favourites to win but talismanic opener Chris Gayle cautioned the Caribbean side against complacency.
“Obviously they are missing a few key players like Brendon McCullum and Dan Vettori but they are in a rebuilding process. Ross Taylor got injured and a few of the other guys are injured so it’s a bit of a setback for them,” Gayle told reporters.
“They have to rebound and they will come at us hard and we’re not here to take them for granted. Whichever way you may look at it and say we’re the stronger team, we still have to go out there and play good cricket.
“A bit of complacency and things don’t go your way, you can find yourself in a lot of trouble so you have to give them the respect and definitely play them hard like [if they are] the number one team.”
Kane Williamson will lead the Black Caps in place of the injured Taylor.
West Indies – Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Smith, Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin (wicketkeeper), Andre Russell, Tino Best, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul.
New Zealand – Kane Williamson (captain), Rob Nicol, Martin Guptill, Daniel Flynn, Dean Brownlie, BJ Watling (wicketkeeper), Tom Latham, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Andrew Ellis, Kyle Mills, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Tarun Nethula.
Umpires: Richard Illingworth, Peter Nero
TV umpire: Richard Kettleborough,
Fourth official: Gregory Brathwaite
ICC Match referee: Andy Pycroft