The Black Caps are set to play in their sixth match of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, against the West Indies in Manchester at 12.30 tomorrow morning. Niall Anderson runs through all you need to know – well, at least most of what you need to know - about the clash.
Another game already?
Yep. After 11 days between games, the Black Caps have four in the next 12 days – they're coming thick and fast from here on in. Travel day, training day, game day – that's the Black Caps' routine for the clash against the West Indies – quite the contrast to the long delay between playing Afghanistan and then South Africa.
That South Africa game! Can we talk about that a little more?
We sure can, especially if it gives me a chance to plug the oral history of the Black Caps' runchase. A real throwback of an ODI, and while I suspect there will be more runs on offer tomorrow, I'm sure fans won't be disappointed at all if they get another low-scoring thriller at some point during the tournament.
This game surely can be as exciting as that ending though, right?
Well, never be too certain with this West Indies side. They haven't been as terrible as their record might suggest at the World Cup – they destroyed Pakistan, were rained out against South Africa, and nearly beat Australia. Sure, England beat them handily, and their bowlers were dreadful against Bangladesh, but even in that game they made 321-8, so the talent is there to be dangerous – and the Black Caps are well aware, having conceded 421 in their warm-up match against them last month.
Does that warm-up game mean anything though?
Probably not. The Black Caps have been consistent about downplaying their warm-up results, including their win over India, but that batting performance at least showed how the West Indies are dangerous if they get going, with plenty of destructive batsmen in their lineup.
"They beat us in the warm-up match and while that has little bearing now, it certainly sharpens up our minds about what they are capable of doing. We'll be looking at them very closely," said Black Caps coach Gary Stead.
Destructive batsmen, but do they have any good bowlers?
They certainly haven't performed with the ball in their last two games, claiming just five wickets. An all-pace attack has been preferred, and while Sheldon Cottrell has impressed, the short-ball barrage that sunk Pakistan in the opener has been too easy to combat in recent games. As a result, spinner Ashley Nurse could be an option to return to the side – possibly in place of destructive all-rounder Andre Russell, who is set to miss the match with a knee injury.
"Traditionally here it spins a bit," said West Indies captain Jason Holder.
"It's something that we've got back in our minds. It could be a possibility that Ashley comes back into the side."
A chance for the Black Caps to post a big score, perhaps?
Definitely. This might be a pitch where the Black Caps can finally test themselves batting first – dependent on whether captain Kane Williamson can win a fifth straight toss. The two matches at Old Trafford so far saw first innings totals of 336 and 397, and whether it be chasing a challenging total or setting one themselves, the odds are the Black Caps are likely to need to score 250+ for the first time this tournament.
Will the Black Caps stick to the same team?
It's hard to see a change in the bowling lineup after another successful outing, with Matt Henry's economical display against South Africa likely locking in his spot for the foreseeable future, while to include Ish Sodhi, the Black Caps would have to drop one of Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme or Mitchell Santner – all of whom have produced match-winning displays so far this tournament.
The toughest question will be whether to bring back Henry Nicholls in place of Colin Munro – at some point, it might be too late to make a change at the top of the order, and Munro hasn't fired in his last three games.
How can I follow the game?
Radio Sport will have live commentary of the game, while right here on nzherald.co.nz the hardy all-nighters will be able to follow live updates, before all of our coverage from Manchester lands right in time for Sunday morning breakfast.
The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT