New Zealand vs West Indies 2017: Preview, squad analysis, and predictions
The West Indies will embark on their 11th tour of New Zealand with a two-match Test series which kick starts in Wellington on 1st December 2017. On the previous 10 tours, the West Indies have played 27 Tests winning 7, losing 10 and 10 Tests ending in draws.
Out of the 10 Test series played in New Zealand, West Indies have triumphed in 3 series (their last series win being in 1994-1995), New Zealand have won 5 series with 2 series ending in draws.
West Indies last won a Test on New Zealand soil in February 1995. Since them having played 10 Tests in New Zealand, the West Indies have lost on 6 occasions with 4 Tests ending in a draw.
The New Zealand team is fresh after a long lay off. After the early exit in the Champions Trophy in June, 2017, the New Zealand team had a short ODI and a T20 series against India in October, 2017.
Although the series was not entirely fruitful, they had their moments. The New Zealand Test team will be raring to usher their new season by thumping their authority over an opposition whom they have enjoyed a lot of success recently.
Though the West Indies won a Test in England and Zimbabwe recently, they have a lot of catching up as far as Test cricket is concerned. The Test team is less settled as compared to their ODI and T 20 counterparts.
New Zealand are currently ranked 4th in the ICC Test rankings with West Indies languishing at number 8.
The New Zealand Test squad is a well-balanced squad with a perfect blend of youth and experience. The batting seems to be in safe hands of Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Henry Nicholls Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
All-rounders in Mitchell Santner and Colin de Grandhome provide the stability and the bowling depth to the squad.
Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry and Lokie Ferguson make an exciting fast bowling option for the Kiwis.
Wicket-keeper Tom Blundell who has excelled in at the domestic level will get a Test debut and this will be an opportunity for him to showcase his talent at the highest level.
The only weak link in the squad is the presence of a second spinner to assist Mitchell Santner. This may be an indication that the pitches in the 2 Test series are likely to favour the pace bowlers as evidenced by the squad of the home team.
The West Indies Test squad is in a rebuilding phase.
The two-Test tour will be testing for most batsmen.The West Indies will rely heavily on their vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite to get them off to a steady start. The batting will revolve around their new hero Shai Hope who has tasted success in English as well as Zimbabwe conditions.
Sunil Ambris scored an impressive 153 against New Zealand A four days back and will in all likelihood make his debut. Middle order batsmen like Shai Hope, Jermaine Blackwood and wicket-keeper batsman Shane Dowrich would look to excel in the series.
Captain Jason Holder and pacers Miguel Cummins, Alzarri Joseph and Kemar Roach will look to rattle the Kiwis batting line up. Devendra Bishoo will be a vital wicket-taking option as the Kiwis have traditionally struggled to play quality leg spin bowling and Bishoo could be a trump card for the visitors.
The first Test will be played at Wellington from 1st December 2017 to 5th December 2017 and the second Test in Hamiltion from 9th December, 2017 to 13th December, 2017.
Weather permitting, it should be a realtively easy series for the New Zealand. Having not lost a Test and a series on their home soil for more than 22 years, it will take a great effort from the current West Indies team to upset New Zealand.
Most of the West Indies batsmen will be playing for the first time in alien New Zealand conditions. The New Zealand bowlers will be fully aware of the struggle of the West Indies top order against the new ball and the trio of Boult, Wagner, and Henry will look to pick up early wickets to demoralise the West Indies.
The only area where the West Indies have an advantage over New Zealand is the selection of a leg-spinner in Bishoo. New Zealand may have missed a trick by not including Ish Sodhi in their squad.