New Zealand will get back to competitive cricket with the T20I series against West Indies, with the first T20I starting at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday. They last played an international match way back in March before the coronavirus pandemic stopped all cricket on New Zealand soil.
New Zealand will be without their frontline bowler Trent Boult and regular captain Kane Williamson as both have taken a break post the hectic IPL 2020 schedule. Tim Southee will lead the team in the absence of Williamson.
West Indies too will be missing the services of key players in Chris Gayle and Andre Russell as both have injuries and have also opted out of the Lanka Premier League.
West Indies will be led by Kieron Pollard, who has had a successful IPL 2020 season with Mumbai Indians. They also have Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran who are coming off a successful 2020 IPL campaign. So, unlike New Zealand, West Indies have players who have gone through the grinds of competitive cricket and will be match fit for the T20I series.
However, New Zealand are favorites in the T20I series as they are playing at home, and know the conditions extremely well, even though they will be without the services of two first XI players in Williamson and Boult.
But the T20 format is West Indies' domain, and they too have a great chance to bag this series. The first T20I will set the tone for the rest of the series.
Match Toss Time: 6:30 Local (11:00 IST)
Match Start Time: 07:00 Local (11:30 IST)
Match Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
The weather is expected to be cloudy, with temperatures hovering around 18 degrees Celsius. Rain is unlikely, and hence, the match will go on smoothly.
Eden Park is known to have a flat pitch, with a small ground. And hence, it's a treat for all the big hitters to have a go after the bowling straight away. The highest total on this ground has been 245/5 scored by Australia against New Zealand in 2018. There have been 7 scores of 200 on this ground. So, win the toss and chase would be the mantra. Any score of 200 or lower is at risk of being chased down with ease.
New Zealand are without the services of Williamson and Boult and that could make the difference in the scoreline. But playing at home, the Blackcaps are at an advantage as they know the conditions perfectly well, and could exploit them.
Kiwis would depend heavily on their senior players – Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill to come good as the rest of the squad lack the T20 experience. Besides, they may be a bit rusty as they would be playing their first international match since March.
West Indies are known to be masters of this format, and under Pollard, they have an able captain who has a rich T20 experience. Despite no Gayle and Russell, West Indies have enough firepower to knock out New Zealand in their own den. It promises to be a clash between West Indies batsmen and New Zealand bowlers.
Probable Playing Xl
New Zealand (NZ): Tim Seifert (WK), Martin Guptill, Devon Conway, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Mark Chapman, Tim Southee (C), Kyle Jamieson, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi.
West Indies (WI): Andre Fletcher, Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Rovman Powell, Kieron Pollard (C), Keemo Paul, Sheldon Cottrell, Hayden Walsh, Oshane Thomas, Kesrick Williams
NZ vs WI Fantasy Team
Ross Taylor, Shimron Hetmyer, Devon Conway, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Sheldon Cottrell, Lockie Ferguson
Captain Picks: Tim Southee (NZ), Nicholas Pooran (WI)
Vice-Captain picks: Ross Taylor (NZ), Kieron Pollard (WI)
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