Cricket: Test series win boosts confidence

By David Leggat

Return of Ryder and Guptill promises explosive start to one-dayers

Jesse Ryder will be under the spotlight today. Photo / Getty Images
Jesse Ryder will be under the spotlight today. Photo / Getty Images

Many faces are different, but the momentum will be with New Zealand when they start their ODI series against the West Indies at Eden Park today.

The tourists have a clutch of players who weren't involved in the disappointing 2-0 test series loss; New Zealand have nine changes. That many alterations says something about confidence in the broadening base and the tailoring of players to certain forms of the game.

The only survivors today from the test series are captain Brendon McCullum, premier batsman Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson. Tim Southee is skipping the first two games for treatment on a toe.

This year New Zealand achieved notable away series wins in South Africa and England, but had a bad week in Bangladesh and split their series in Sri Lanka a few weeks ago. They have won seven and lost nine of 18 games this year.

McCullum doesn't necessarily buy into the argument that New Zealand have momentum after convincing test wins. "I think they're separate games," he said. "We'll store those wins away as a test unit, and we'll start level on Boxing Day."

One player will have an inordinate amount of focus on him today. Jesse Ryder, along with opening partner Martin Guptill - who missed the last two tours with injury - are in rousing first-class form and Guptill has had a strong ODI year.

Ryder returns after two years gone from the national team. He'll have warm support and his ability is such that he will surely deliver at some point during the series.

The West Indies, already shorn of champion opener Chris Gayle for the ODI series, have now lost talented Marlon Samuels to a chronic wrist injury. Missing too is big-hitting allrounder Kieron Pollard.

"I am not going to let it be used as an excuse if we don't play well," skipper Dwayne Bravo said. "If we play to our full potential we're going to do well."

The tourists' record this year has been ordinary. They have won eight of 23 in 2013. Seven of their last 10 have been lost.

But they have strong short form skills, are the world T20 champions and in seamer Ravi Rampaul and promising Jason Holder they have, respectively, an experienced wicket-taker, and a bright fast-medium prospect.

Young batsmen such as wicketkeeper Johnson Charles, Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo are averaging over 30.

Dwayne Bravo is a flamboyant figure and spoke hard words about the importance of this ODI series. 'It's very embarrassing to see the state our cricket has come to," the Trinidad allrounder said. "We need to look at ourselves. Our fans are hurting most. We need to buck ourselves up."


NZ v West Indies

Video

First ODI - Eden Park, 2pm today

New Zealand: (from) Brendon McCullum (c), Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Colin Munro, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Jimmy Neesham, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Mitch McClenaghan, Adam Milne.

West Indies: (from) Dwayne Bravo (c), Johnson Charles, Kieran Powell, Kirk Edwards, Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo, Chadwick Walton, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Narsingh Deonarine, Tino Best, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Nikita Miller, Jason Holder.

Pitch/forecast: The drop-in usually has good bounce and carry. Batsmen should like it and bowlers won't be too unhappy either. Forecast is poor, with rain expected during the day.


Key players

New Zealand: It's tempting to opt for the returning Ryder, but let's stick with Ross Taylor. If he carries his terrific test form into the ODI series, and the rest bat around him, the hosts will be a formidable challenge.

West Indies: Dwayne Bravo. The ODI skipper must get some pep into his players after a limp showing during the tests. New faces will help, Bravo is an exuberant type. They are better at the shorter forms at the moment. Bravo must get them up smartly to stop New Zealand's momentum.

- NZ Herald

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