New Zealand vs West Indies 1st T20I Preview: Depleted outfits begin lead-up to T20 World Cup at Eden Park
Both teams not being at their full strength gives the series some parity. While New Zealand are without their best players Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, both of whom were part of the IPL, West Indies will miss Andre Russell, Evin Lewis and Dwayne Bravo among others.
All about getting back in the groove
Both West Indies and New Zealand will be fairly rusty as they take the field after the Covid-19 break. New Zealand were the last team to play an international match against Australia right before everything was shut down in March this year.
Although West Indies were part of a three-match test series against England, which marked the return of international cricket, they have not participated in white-ball cricket for a long time now and might take some time to get back in the groove. The CPL game time though would have helped.
The last time New Zealand played T20 cricket, they suffered the embarrassment of a 0-5 defeat against India. Although the team came back strongly to clean sweep the ODI series, the Kiwis will have something to prove.
Several absentees in both camps
Both teams have a lot of their personnel missing. New Zealand are without their best players Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, both of whom were part of the IPL.
Since the guidelines in New Zealand require anybody flying in the country to undergo a 14-day hard quarantine, it is only understandable why both the players have been excluded from the T20Is. This allows them to have some much-required rest before the all-important test series.
The other key Kiwi players who were part of the IPL, Lockie Ferguson, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner and Tim Seifert, are undergoing quarantine which ends on November 26, just a day before the T20Is.
Tim Southee, who has been named skipper in the T20Is, will not be part of the final match of the series to get sufficient rest for the test matches.
Fans have become accustomed to seeing the likes of Lendl Simmons, Johnson Charles and Evin Lewis at the top of the order for West Indies in T20 cricket. Even Chris Gayle has not officially retired from international cricket yet and can be a possibility to feature for West Indies in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Onus on Hetmyer, Pooran and Pollard
For this particular series though, all of them are either unavailable or have not been picked. This leaves West Indies with no choice but to open with Andre Fletcher and Brandon King. However, they still have some meat in the middle order with two explosive batsmen in Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran.
One of the batting all-rounders Rovman Powell or Kyle Mayers is expected to make the West Indies XI, which will gain substance with the presence of skipper Kieron Pollard, who will be in the role of the finisher.
Their first bowling picks after Dwayne Bravo was ruled out of the series due to a groin injury will be Keemo Paul, Sheldon Cottrell, Hayden Walsh Jr and Kesrick Williams. The team is likely to pick one between tearaway Oshane Thomas and all-rounder Fabian Allen.
Kiwis aim to overcome inexperience
For New Zealand, Colin Munro is unavailable due to his Big Bash commitments. As Munro generally partners Martin Guptill at the top of the order, it will open up a place for Tim Seifert to audition for the role.
Wellington batsman Devon Conway, who has been picked for the series, will also be a part of the top order. So will Glenn Phillips, who returns on the back of an impressive CPL season. Mark Chapman is another option for New Zealand in the batting line-up but he is unlikely to get a game as of now.
Ross Taylor will provide some much needed stability to the New Zealand batting order, after which all rounders Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner will follow.
Skipper Tim Southee is likely to share the load of the pace attack with debutant Kyle Jamieson and tearaway Lockie Ferguson, with Ish Sodhi playing as the second spinner alongside Santner.
The mini Eden Park
The match will be played at Eden Park which will add another dimension to the game. Talking of dimensions, the ground's dimensions are really strange, with boundaries on one side quite short. The straight boundaries as well are ridiculously short, with even mistimed shots sailing over the ropes.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
New Zealand - Tim Seifert (wk), Martin Guptill, Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee (c), Kyle Jamieson, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi
West Indies - Andre Fletcher, Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Rovman Powell/Kyle Mayers, Kieron Pollard (c), Keemo Paul, Sheldon Cottrell, Hayden Walsh, Fabian Allen/Oshane Thomas, Kesrick Williams
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