Cricket: Chance to nail coffin shut ahead of India's arrival

By David Leggat

NZ will stamp mark on form if they win ODI series decider today.

Corey Anderson of New Zealand celebrates scoring the fastest 100 runs in history. Photo / Getty Images
Corey Anderson of New Zealand celebrates scoring the fastest 100 runs in history. Photo / Getty Images

What a difference a fortnight makes.

There we were on the night of December 26 pondering New Zealand's chances of getting back into their ODI series against the West Indies, having lost a tight opening contest at Eden Park, amid talk of an evenness between the teams, as borne out by their International Cricket Council rankings of seven (Windies) and eight (NZ).

Just how much the violence of Corey Anderson and Jesse Ryder's assault in the shortened contest at Queenstown on New Year's Day took out of the tourists, only they know.

But the odds strongly favour New Zealand going on to win the decider today and clinching a 3-1 series, to follow their emphatic 2-0 test rubber win.

Two T20s are a few days away - the last before the world T20 in Bangladesh in three months - and if New Zealand stretch their necks they'll see India preparing to board a plane heading this way.

It's a good time to be in prime, and importantly, winning form.

But in Kane Williamson's mind what matters most is today and another chance for success.

New Zealand had what coach Mike Hesson has called "a bad week" in Bangladesh, when they were dusted 3-0 in October/November. But before that, there were ODI series wins in South Africa and England last year, no mean double achievement in anyone's book.

The West Indies, shorn of several players through injury, are battling. Time then for New Zealand to nail the coffin shut.

"It's very much [about] this game and we know how important it is for our team to keep improving and building on each performance, so this team is moving in the right direction," Williamson said yesterday. "It comes back to focusing on our own game. There's a series win on the line and if we can keep playing the cricket we want to at the level we want to play it, then ultimately wins will come."

West Indies wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin bemoaned an injury toll which has ravaged their leading group, but he knows they have a final opportunity to pick themselves up in the ODI series.

"The guys are looking forward to going home but at the same time we're tuned up to give a good showing," he said. "New Zealand have been clicking on all aspects of the game so it's going to be tough."

Their bowlers have been clobbered, the batsmen seem unable to make sufficient runs. The West Indies badly need someone to lead the way in each department.

New Zealand have turned the series on its head and uncovered a new folk hero hitter in Corey Anderson. When it comes to destructive hitting, there may be no better double act in the ODI game right now than Jesse Ryder and Anderson.

If New Zealand are looking for an extra incentive today try this: win and they'll go ahead of the Windies into seventh spot on the ICC rankings, albeit on the same points, 88, but having played fewer games. It mightn't sound much, but every step counts.

Ross Taylor is up to a career-high No 3 on the test batting rankings, behind only South Africa's AB de Villiers and West Indian Shiv Chanderpaul.

NZ v West Indies
Fifth ODI

Seddon Park, 2pm today

New Zealand: (from) Brendon McCullum (c), Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Nathan McCullum, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan.
West Indies: (from) Dwayne Bravo (c), Kieran Powell, Johnson Charles, Lendl Simmons, Kirk Edwards, Narsingh Deonarine, Chadwick Walton, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Tino Best, Ravi Rampaul, Nikita Miller.

Pitch/forecast

Making runs should not be too difficult. There's a short boundary to the eastern side, favoured in the past by Jesse Ryder and which would be in the corner of Corey Anderson's eyes too. The forecast is reasonable, albeit with the chance of an evening shower. A high of 22C is predicted for the series decider.

Key players

New Zealand: Mitchell McClenaghan. His job is taking wickets, not run economy, and he's top class at it too. The leading wicket taker in the series, if he's on song New Zealand should win.
West Indies: Runs seem a major problem, wickets too. The skipper is the only batsman with more than 100 runs and is the leading wicket taker. So once more from the front it has to be. Bravo.

Statistic

New Zealand have never played the West Indies in an ODI in Hamilton, but they have won 11 of the 16 games at Seddon Park.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf02 at 22 Dec 2014 02:45:48 Processing Time: 618ms