West Indies conclude their home international summer on Sunday evening when they battle it out with New Zealand in a deciding match of their three game ODI series, one which has been quite intriguing thus far.
West Indies drew first blood in the series on Wednesday when they surprised New Zealand but the tourists rebounded on Friday night to set up this decider, one which is important to the home side with the 10 World Cup qualifying points available.
This has been a rollercoaster of a series for West Indies. For three innings of it they were in control of proceedings but then 10 overs into the second run chase they undid all their hard work and now have to go through a deciding match if they are to seal the spoils. While there are 10 points up for grabs for winning this match you sense it is more important to win so that they start believing they can be competitive in this format once again. Lose here and that first game just looks like a fluke.
The one thing they don’t need in order to get the job done in this finale is improvement from their bowlers. They have been excellent in this series, never really letting New Zealand get away from them and offering nothing that got them into their groove. Where they could do with finding something is their top order with the bat. It fell apart in the previous game and was clinging on in the first game too. Runs at the top of the order would really help.
There is no getting away from the fact that the opening game was a really sluggish performance from New Zealand. It was so unlike them and nothing like what we would expect from them, especially as they have been so active in white ball cricket over the last six weeks or so. It really was a performance out of the blue but everyone is allowed a bad day at the office. The important thing was that they didn’t repeat a below par display and to be fair to them they didn’t. They were very strong in the previous match.
Their bowlers had the game pretty much sewn up within the opening 10 overs of the run chase and to give that unit some credit they bowled well in the opening game too but didn’t have nearly enough runs on the board. The one thing New Zealand really need in order for things to be much more comfortable for them in this match is a collective performance with the bat. Finn Allen played well in the previous match but apart from that they haven’t really offered any meaningful contributions with the bat.
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In an ideal world West Indies would want to strengthen their batting for this final match but they are using all the batters in their squad so the same unit is going to have to bat better. They might bring Jayden Seales in with the ball.
It remains to be seen whether New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is fit to lead the side on in this match. If he isn’t then the Kiwis could well go in with an unchanged XI after comfortably coming out on top on Friday.
This might be the home ground of Kyle Mayers in the Caribbean Premier League but so far the all-rounder has bowled four overs in the series and scored six runs even though he opened with both the bat and the ball in the last match. His last nine scores with the bat have been 0, 15, 8, 73, 14, 1, 4, 6 and 0 and he has gone without a wicket in those nine matches as well so I’ve got to think that a performance line of 41.5 looks a little beyond him.
I won’t do him a disservice to suggest that the double ton he scored in that incredible run chase against Bangladesh in a Test match is seeing him overrated but ODI and T20 batting averages of 25.40 and 23.50 suggest he isn’t the long-term answer at the top of the order and while his bowling can be useful as a back up I’m not convinced he’s ever going to be much with the ball in this format either as his six wickets at one every 55.6 balls would suggest. He might open but that performance line looks too high on a pitch which will surely suit the spinners more than the seamers now.
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