Cricket: NZ chase rare away win

By David Leggat

New Zealand have made one change for the third test against the West Indies, with Neil Wagner coming into the team. Photo / Getty
New Zealand have made one change for the third test against the West Indies, with Neil Wagner coming into the team. Photo / Getty

The last time New Zealand beat a top eight nation in an away series, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham and Ish Sodhi were in short pants.

The occasion was the 2002 to the Caribbean, where New Zealand won their first test away against the West Indies, courtesy of a 204-run win at Kensington Oval in Barbados. That was achieved on the back of a Stephen Fleming century and seven wickets apiece from Shane Bond and Dan Vettori.

New Zealand are hoping for a touch of history repeating from early tomorrow when the third and deciding test starts on the same ground.

Having won the first test by 186 runs in Jamaica, they were well beaten by 10 wickets in Trinidad last week. The West Indian tourists of late last year are a pale imitation of the current side.

"They are a far better side at home, and far better with (fast bowlers) Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said today.

"There's no doubt about that, and Chris Gayle is a huge player for them as well.

They've got a full strength side and, playing at home, they're tough to beat."

New Zealand have made one change from the second test, with bustling left arm seamer Neil Wagner getting his first opportunity in the series, replacing legspinner Sodhi.

Rather than tinker with the balance of the XI, New Zealand have opted to swap pace for spin, the only choice being whether Sodhi or tyro offspinner Mark Craig would be left out.

Hesson admitted the past reputation of Kensington Oval played a part in their thinking on Wagner's inclusion - "history suggests there is pace and bounce in it. Neil has been knocking the door down over the last few weeks without getting an opportunity and I think he can do a good job for us".

Craig took a match-winning eight wickets on debut in Jamaica, but took some punishment in Trinidad as Darren Bravo and Kraigg Brathwaite scored first innings centuries.

Still Hesson said he is in good form and with Wagner's lefthandedness - along with fellow leftie Trent Boult - able to rough up the area outside the righthand batsmens' off stump, they believed Craig the better choice. It may not have played a big part in the thinking, but Craig showed himself a resolute late order batsman in Trinidad, battling three hours over 67 in a valiant effort to save the test, with wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

The Kensington Oval pitch is hard, promising more bounce and pace than either Jamaica or Trinidad, a point which won't be lost on West Indian coach Ottis Gibson.
"Kensington always has a little bit in it for the bowlers. Hopefully we'll get a very g
ood surface that helps our quick bowlers a little bit more than maybe Trinidad and Jamaica," he said.

"Our fast bowlers are bowling fantastically well so hopefully we get a pitch that gives them a little bit of support and they can continue to bowl the way they have been bowling and bowl us to a series win."

Hamish Rutherford retains his opening role alongside Latham, despite his poor return in Trinidad, Hesson saying all possible alternatives had been debated.

"You want to put people in positions they feel familiar with, have trained in, and is their job. We've put a lot of thought and discussion into it."

Taylor and Roach, returning in this serise from lengthy breaks from the national team, have added plenty of punch to the attack. Of the 35 New Zealand wickets in fall in the series, the pair have shared 17.

West Indies: (from) Denesh Ramdin (c), Chris Gayle, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Shiv Chanderpaul, Jermaine Blackwood, Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Sulieman Benn, Shane Shillingford.

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (c), Hamish Rutherford, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Mark Craig, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.

- NZ Herald

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