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A cracker of a contest can be expected as New Zealand face West Indies in the first T20I tomorrow.

Though New Zealand does not have a full-strength squad having rested Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, they still have enough depth. West Indies, languishing at the 9th spot in the rankings will depend on a few youngsters to stand up and deliver with some big names like Chris Gayle, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, and Sunil Narine missing. 

The hosts are on a seven-match losing streak and will look to end it tomorrow. Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor form the backbone of their batting. They have two effective spinners in Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi along with two wicket-taking pacers in Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson.

Team News 

Windies have a few big-hitters like Andre Fletcher and Shimron Hetmyer in their lineup. All-rounder Kyle Mayers making his debut will be eager to prove himself on the big stage. Skipper, Kieron Pollard will have to make the most of the resources at hand. The bowling will be spearheaded by Sheldon Cottrell and Keemo Paul.

With Colin de Grandhomme out of the clash due to an injury, Jimmy Neesham will don the all-rounder's role. Kyle Jamieson's short balls will trouble the men from the Caribbean.

Pitch and Conditions 

With short boundaries at Eden Park, a high-scoring clash can be expected. An overcast day awaits both sides. The team winning the toss should opt to chase. A score of 200+ is a must if put to bat first.

Probable Playing XI

New Zealand:  Tim Seifert (WK), Martin Guptill, Glenn Philips, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Mark Chapman, Tim Southee (C), Kyle Jamieson, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi.

West Indies: Andre Fletcher, Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Kyle Mayers, Kieron Pollard (C), Keemo Paul, Sheldon Cottrell, Hayden Walsh, Oshane Thomas, Kesrick Williams.

Key Battles 

Andre Fletcher vs Tim Southee

Southee is an experienced campaigner while Fletcher will look to play a big knock New Zealand
Southee is an experienced campaigner while Fletcher will look to play a big knock

He is a fearless opener blessed with a solid technique. Fletcher has one of the best pull shots in the game.  He has a lot of experience and must try to score heavily in the powerplay. He must improve his strike rate which is only 108 at the moment. 

Southee is one of the best exponents of reverse swing both with the new ball and the old ball. Apart from his dangerous outswinger, he has intelligent pace variations. He can readjust his line and length according to the skill of the batsman at the crease. Being the skipper now, he will be the bowling spearhead and one to lead the way.

Martin Guptill vs Sheldon Cottrell

Guptill's record in T20's speaks for itself while Cottrell needs to hit the ground running  New Zealand
Guptill's record in T20's speaks for itself while Cottrell needs to hit the ground running

Known to either smash a quick knock or get out in a flash, Guptill is a brilliant stroke-maker and a proven match-winner. He can tear apart any bowling attack on his day by playing destructively.

Cottrell would be eager to get back into full form after a sub-par IPL. He can trouble Guptill with his slingy action and clever angles around the wicket.  He needs to ensure consistency and not just be good in patches.

Prediction 

New Zealand would have immense knowledge of the home conditions but their recent record leaves a lot to be desired. West Indies are unpredictable but can pull off something stunning on their day. After a two-week quarantine, the boys would be raring to go. 

Cricwizz predicts New Zealand to win the match.