First Test preview: West Indies v New Zealand

New Zealand

The memories of the Wellington demolition are still fresh in the fans' memories, and definitely in the minds of the players, as the Windies took to exact revenge on a three-day defeat in December, and a two nil series loss.

On the eve of the first Test between New Zealand and the West Indies in Jamaica, it almost feels like we saw them play each other less than six months ag… oh.

The memories of the Wellington demolition are still fresh in the fans' memories, and definitely in the minds of the players, as the Windies took to exact revenge on a three-day defeat in December, and a two nil series loss.

The last time the New Zealanders played in the Caribbean, in 2012, they also came unstuck away from home, losing both fixtures comprehensively, despite the Windies not being in top form themselves and requiring some Marlon magic.

This time, the Black Caps might have better luck. The hosts have seen a number of changes to their set up in recent weeks, with skipper Darren Sammy sacked and then quitting the format, and Denesh Ramdin thus given the armband.

On top of that major change, Sunil Narine chose to play in the IPL final for Kolkata a fortnight ago, and the selectors punished him by leaving him out of the squad, even though he would have been back home in plenty of time.

So they go into the game without their best spinner, and the next best, Shane Shillingford, still having a close eye kept in him due to a dodgy action. He's not allowed to bowl the doosra, while Samuels must keep away from his quicker delivery lest he chuck it.

AND! Opening batsman Chris Gayle arrived in the country a week ago after undergoing treatments on his lower back in Germany, and while he is expected to play, he is probably not 100 percent and had a poor IPL before that, so is out of form.

More positively, the Windies have fast bowler Kemar Roach back in the side after injury, and he will be keen to impress as he took five wickets here last time the sides faced off at Sabina Park in 2012.

For the Black Caps, things are much rosier, as they have their top order trio of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum ready to fire, while adding Corey Anderson to the mix lower down, after he found form late in the IPL.

But they are without maverick batsman Jesse Ryder due to disciplinary reasons, same as with fast bowler Doug Bracewell. Ryder is thus plying his trade with Essex at the moment.

Bowling-wise, they have a potential debutant in Mark Craig, a spinner who keeps it very simple and refuses to even look at a doosra. His domestic record in not impressive, but he's the best offie they've got after Jeetan Patel turned down the call up in favour of County stability.

More promisingly, leg-spinner Ish Sodhi should prove a handful on this ground, having taken a five-fer in the warm up game a few days ago. The 21-year-old is tall and will get some good bounce on a reputedly slow-ish track. The spinners will be crucial, we reckon.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For the hosts, Marlon Samuels will be looked at with both bat and ball. Given the uncertainty of Gayle's form, and an unstable top order, he will need to find the same form that saw him score a ton and a fifty the last time they played here.

The Black Caps will definitely look to skipper McCullum. His most recent Test series, in February against India, saw him score a double ton and a triple ton within the space of four innings. We imagine he'll do OK against these spinners.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2013 Third Test: New Zealand won by eight wickets in Hamilton<br>2013 Second Test: New Zealand won by an innings and 73 runs in Wellington<br>2013 First Test: Match drawn in Dunedin<br>2012 Second Test: West Indies won by five wickets in Kingston<br>2012 First Test: West Indies won by nine wickets in North Sound

<b>Squads</b><br><i>West Indies:</i> Denesh Ramdin (capt), Sulieman Benn, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kirk Edwards, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Shane Shillingford, Jerome Taylor

<i>New Zealand:</i> Squad: Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (captain), Tom Latham, Corey Anderson, BJ Watling, Luke Ronchi, Jimmy Neesham, Mark Craig, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi.

<b>Dates:</b> 8 to 12 June<br><b>Morning session:</b> 10:00-12:00 (15:00-17:00 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 12:40-14:40 (17:40-19:40 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 15:00-17:00 (20:00-22:00 GMT)<br><b>On-field umpires:</b> Richard Illingworth and Rod Tucker<br><b>Third umpire:</b> Ian Gould<br><b>Match referee:</b> Chris Broad