Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Growing maturity evident in victory

Corey Anderson. Photo / Getty Images
Corey Anderson. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's maturity in yesterday's victory over the West Indies to take a 2-1 lead in their five-match one-day international series is a blueprint for consistent success as they advance on the World Cup.

The starting XI balances aggression, wisdom and composure - they could threaten any team in the world 'on their day'. The key is removing the last three words from the previous sentence.

Martin Guptill led the way in Nelson. His 81 at a strike rate of 68 was nowhere near as dashing as he can be. Importantly, he recognised that and wore the West Indies down by attrition while Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor found form around him.

The potential pitfall, which New Zealand negotiated smoothly, was not trying to replicate the performances of Corey Anderson and Jesse Ryder in the previous match at Queenstown. These were different circumstances on a wicket being used for the first time internationally - which wasn't as pacey as some. New Zealand had the presence of mind to adapt.

"I think people expect too much sometimes," Guptill said, perhaps in reference to some jeering from the embankment at his slow start. "They don't know what the conditions are like in the middle. To get through the initial period, adjust and end up with 81, well, I'm happy.

"An innings like Corey's [world record ODI innings] doesn't happen every day. Shahid Afridi held that for [17] years. It's unrealistic to expect it all the time.

"I tried to get through it. Kane helped me a lot early. I couldn't get any timing until I hit that six off Bravo [at the end of the 17th over]."

Captain Brendon McCullum endorsed Guptill's patience: "It was an efficient all-round performance but any time your top four make the majority of the runs is good. I thought the wicket was probably 30-40 runs tougher than the 285 we got. It's a credit to Martin for hanging in there [until the 42nd over] so we could bat around him.

"The wicket had a good grass covering and played well but just had a bit of two-paced, tennis-ball bounce. Still, you can't expect every wicket to produce 320-plus runs.

"There's a perception every match can be like the win in Queenstown but sometimes, like here, we need to graft. The flipside is while it's great to be one or two down by 35 overs, you can't waste those overs solely to get into a launch position. You need momentum to build a platform."

McCullum strained a hamstring in Queenstown and went through a fitness test in the Nelson build-up. He says the tweak should be fine and they're likely to play the same combination at Hamilton on Wednesday unless it's a faster pitch. In that case, Adam Milne might be considered.

Meanwhile, the West Indies injury woes continue. Ravi Rampaul was ruled out yesterday with an injured left thumb. They're now missing seven first-choice players with Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Kemar Roach and Darren Sammy already absent.

Sammy is staying on the tour in case his hamstring comes right for the T20s. Andre Russell, Andre Fletcher and Samuel Badree are flying out as cover. They're due to arrive in the next couple of days.

- Herald on Sunday

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