ODI series preview: New Zealand v West Indies

New Zealand

Back home after a testing stint in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, New Zealand have the chance to upstage a West Indies unit one position superior in the International Cricket Council's ODI rankings.

Back home after a testing stint in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, New Zealand have the chance to upstage a West Indies unit one position superior in the International Cricket Council's ODI rankings.

The five-match series, which will be followed by a couple of T20Is, too, will afford the Black Caps the opportunity to hone combinations ahead of next year's World Twenty20.

The return of batsmen Martin Guptill and Jesse Ryder are a major boost. The latter has enjoyed a promising comeback after <i>that</i> awful assault earlier this year. His return will bring a great dynamic to the unit.

While the conditions won't mimic those on offer during the T20I showpiece in Bangladesh next year, opportunity will knock for spinner Nathan McCullum to fine-tune an important role as the leader of the slow-bowling ranks. A potentially explosive Windies unit, despite the absence of the injured Chris Gayle, will ensure a genuine challenge.

The Windies have endured a very poor string of performances in the Test match arena lately. The shorter format of the international game, as is the norm, will suit them entirely. Their is status to consolidate, and perhaps the sixth-placed Pakistan and fifth-placed Sri Lanka to surpass – a confident series win will all but confirm this.

Their personnel is not best primed for this, though, with all-rounder Marlon Samuels also out due to injury. The ongoing selection of the inexperienced Johnson Charles as a makeshift wicketkeeper, too, might back fire. The talented Denesh Ramdin deserves another go in ODI cricket.

<b>Key Men</b><br><b>Corey Anderson</b> is blossoming into the real deal, setting himself apart from a slew of substandard New Zealand all-rounders. This, again, is his chance to drive home a pressing need for the complete package.

Inadequate at the helm of the Test unit and relieved of the ODI captaincy, all-rounder <b>Darren Sammy</b> won't be the first to admit his stock is decreasing. A successful effort, with bat and ball, will go a long way in answering many West Indian critics.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2012: Fifth ODI: West Indies won by 20 runs in Basseterre<br>2012: Fourth ODI: West Indies won by 24 runs in Basseterre<br>2012: Third ODI: New Zealand won by 88 runs in Basseterre<br>2012: Second ODI: West Indies won by 55 runs in Kingston<br>2012: First ODI: West Indies won by nine wickets in Kingston

<b>Prediction</b><br>New Zealand are likely to take the first three ODIs, with the Windies renowned for deliverying too little too late, and hence bound to complete consolation wins in Nelson and Hamilton.

<b>Squads</b><br><i>New Zealand:</i> Brendon McCullum (captain), Corey Anderson, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson.

<i>West Indies:</i> Dwayne Bravo (captain), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Narsingh Deonarine, Kirk Edwards, Jason Holder, Nikita Miller, Sunil Narine, Kieran Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Darren Sammy, Chadwick Walton, Lendl Simmons.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First ODI: 26 December, Auckland<br>Second ODI: 29 December, Napier<br>Third ODI: 1 January, Queenstown<br>Fourth ODI: 4 January, Nelson<br>Fifth ODI: 8 January, Hamilton

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