Second Test preview: New Zealand v West Indies

New Zealand

The seesaw nature of an intriguing series opener is deserving of a suitable sequel, as New Zealand and the West Indies jostle for position again in Wellington this week.

The seesaw nature of an intriguing series opener is deserving of a suitable sequel, as New Zealand and the West Indies jostle for position again in Wellington this week.

What Black Caps double-centurion Ross Taylor started, Windies left-hander Darren Bravo continued with an innings of similar stature, before inclement weather had the final say at the University Oval.

Rain, too, is likely to feature at the Basin Reserve – but not enough to delay play for prolonged periods. While the last three Tests at this venue have produced draws, the trend is likely to be broken this time.

The green nature of the pitch has been well documented, yet won't bring the selection of all-pace attacks. The hosts, indeed, have confirmed leg-spinner Ish Sodhi will be retained. The tourists, meanwhile, are not likely to go without the in-form Shane Shillingford.

The Kiwis will welcome the return of Kane Williamson, who will replace the unfitting Aaron Redmond or all-rounder Corey Anderson, depending on the balance McCullum and company pursue.

The visitors will trust the International Cricket Council come to a decision on the fates of Shillingford and fellow slow bowler Marlon Samuels before the start. Their allegedly illegal bowling actions have been independently analysed, the jury will soon be out.

While glancing blows were traded in Dunedin, proper impact beckons in Wellington in a bid to secure both physical and psychological edge before the series decider in Hamilton – and the subsequent limited-overs series.

<b>Key Men</b><br><b>Kane Williamson's</b> return will bring serious solidity to the top order, and a century scored at domestic level on the weekend suggests a characteristically sound comeback.

Coach Ottis Gibson acknowledged fast bowler <b>Shannon Gabriel</b> endured a poor series opener. Opportunity for correction and redemption, in conditions primed for pace, is knocking.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><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<br>2008: Second Test: Match drawn in Napier<br>2008: First Test: Match drawn in Dunedin

<b>Prediction</b><br>Recent history and the weather imply a stalemate, but a pitch that is bound to keep the batsmen turning suits a result – which the hosts are probably going to make their own.

<b>Probable Teams</b><br><i>New Zealand:</i> Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, BJ Watling, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi.

<i>West Indies:</i> Kirk Edwards, Kieran Powell, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Shane Shillingford, Tino Best, Shannon Gabriel.

<b>Dates:</b> 11 to 15 December<br><b>Morning session:</b> 10:30-12:30 (21:30-23:30 previous day GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 13:10-15:10 (00:10-02:10 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 15:30-17:30 (02:30-04:30 GMT)<br><b>On-field umpires:</b> Ian Gould and Paul Reiffel<br><b>Third umpire:</b> Nigel Llong<br><b>Match referee:</b> Roshan Mahanama

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