Black Caps open season against resurgent Windies

Yes we know that it might just be too early to herald a new dawn for cricket in the Caribbean but under Stuart Law the team appears headed in the right direction.

New Zealand on the other hand have not played Test cricket since the visit of South Africa in March and for them this series will be one where they take stock.

In that time the West Indies have played eight Tests winning three of the last four and making quatum leaps in terms of continuity.

The Black Caps should be favourites in Wellington but they face a team that found a way to compete with England in England and could be dangerous.

New Zealand are without paceman Tim Southee who is awaiting the birth of a child but have plenty of back up in the quick bowling stocks including lead bowler Trent Boult.

The West Indies have dropped the underperforming Kyle Hope for this tour while his brother Shai will no doubt prove to be a key player for the tourists.

His replacement in the squad is the uncapped Sunil Ambris who impressed for West Indies A against their Sri Lankan counterparts.

The West Indies enjoyed a series win in Zimbabwe recently and though the slow and dry surface in Bulawayo was a far cry from Wellington that match practice could count in their favour.

New Zealand are set to cap a new wicketkeeper in the shape of Tom Blundell in the team for the injured BJ Watling.

Mitchell Santner is the only spinner in the squad for the hosts who will look to pace to provide the majority of overs.

Allrounder Colin de Grandhomme is likely to play ahead of fourth seamer Lockie Ferguson while the three frontline seam slots should be filled by Boult, Neil Wagner and Matt Henry.

The batting is built around the solid base of skipper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor but Tom Latham, Jeet Raval and Henry Nicholls have all shown ability at Test level.

The West Indies will be looking for improvements from players like Kieran Powell, the only batsman with Test experience at the Basin Reserve as well as Jermaine Blackwood whose temperament has been questioned on more than one occasion.

Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich have played hero for the West Indies before as has Jason Holder but the tourists will be hoping for more runs from the top order.

If the West Indies can get on top of New Zealand early this could be a fascinating contest while the nightmare scenario for them will be to be inserted and skittled cheaply up front.

The pitch is expected to do a bit on the first two days before flattening out as is customary at the Basin.

On their last visit to the Basin Reserve the West Indies were handed an innings defeat but only Powell and Shannon Gabriel remain from that team.

The key for the Windies will be to stay in the game as long as possible and to grasp any opportunities the Black Caps hand them firmly.

Key Players

Williamson is someone New Zealand typically rely on to score mountains of runs and he is very good at it.

Boult has to lead the attack but has able apprentices in Wagner and Henry and should be free to perform the strike bowling role.

Kraigg Brathwaite will be charged with preventing New Zealand from getting amongst the middle order with the new ball and he has the approach to succeed.

Gabriel has shown that on his day few can match him for wicket-taking prowess but he needs to sort out his no-ball problem.

Squads

New Zealand Test squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, Tom Blundell, Lockie Ferguson, George Worker.

West Indies Test squad: Jason Holder (capt), Kraigg Brathwaite (vice-capt), Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach

Last five Head-to-head results

2014 Third Test: New Zealand won by 53 runs in Bridgetown
2014 Second Test: West Indies won by ten wickets in Port-of-Spain
2014 First Test: New Zealand won by 186 runs in Kingston
2013 Third Test: New Zealand won by eight wickets in Hamilton
2013 Second Test: New Zealand won by an innings and 73 runs

Details

Hours of play (local time): 11:00 start (22:00 GMT-1d, 00:00 SAST), Lunch 13.00-13.40, Tea 15.40-16.00, Close 18.00
Match days: 01-05 December 2017
Umpires: Ian Gould, Rod Tucker
TV Umpire: Bruce Oxenford
Reserve Umpire: Wayne Knights
Match Referee: Chris Broad