Their campaign deflated after early promise, the West Indies face a do-or-die battle against a confident-looking New Zealand in a crucial World Cup tie here Saturday. The Windies started their World Cup campaign with a bang, demolishing Pakistan by seven wickets. But since then, things have gone from bad to worse for the Caribbeans and they have suffered three defeats (against Australia, England and Bangladesh) while the game against South Africa was washed out. The West Indies are currently lying seventh in the 10-team standings with just three points in their kitty and they can’t afford any further loss to stay in the mix for a semifinal spot.
The West Indies would be smarting from a string of losses against Bangladesh, including the defeat in their last World Cup game despite posting a big total. The West Indies posted a huge 321 for eight against the South Asians, a target which the Tigers chased down in 41.3 overs with seven wickets in hand. Barring Chris Gayle, the West Indies’ batting has started clicking but the performance of their bowlers would be a major cause of concern for skipper Jason Holder. While Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Holder have been holding the fort with the bat, Gayle and Andre Russell have let down the team badly.
On the bowling front, all the West Indian bowlers looked ordinary and leaked runs against Bangladesh. And the likes of Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel and Oshane Thomas need to pull up their socks before it is too late. The Kiwis, on the other hand, are sitting pretty at the second spot with nine points, which includes four wins out of five games with the match against India being washed out. New Zealand have so far defeated Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and South Africa but their real test starts now as after West Indies, they will have three tough encounters against Pakistan, Australia and England.
In their last match against South Africa, skipper Kane Williamson played a match-winning knock of 106 not out to guide New Zealand home in a tense final over finish while chasing a modest 242-run target. Colin de Grandhomme, who made 60 off 47 besides bowling an economical spell of 1/33, also played a vital role along side Williamson in that victory. But with tough matches in the offing, Williamson would look for bigger contributions from the likes of Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor and Tom Latham.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Captain), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
West Indies: Jason Holder (Captain), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.
Match starts at 6pm (IST).