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T20I series review: New Zealand vs West Indies

New Zealand v West Indies - T20 Game 3
New Zealand v West Indies - T20 Game 3
Vignesh Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 03 Dec 2020
Feature
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New Zealand and West Indies played a 3-match T20I series that New Zealand won 2-0 with one T20I lost to the rain.

The margin is reflective of how each team performed in the series: New Zealand found different players stepping up at different times, from Devon Conway to Jimmy Neesham to Lockie Ferguson to Glenn Philips. West Indies - the defending World T20 champions - struggled with their bowling and were overreliant on the power-hitting of Kieron Pollard in the absence of Andre Russell and Chris Gayle.

With the series done, here is how each team performed and the areas they should address before next year's World T20.

New Zealand: identifying their first-choice playing XI

Lockie Ferguson and Mitchell Santner appear to be first-choice selections.
Lockie Ferguson and Mitchell Santner appear to be first-choice selections.

New Zealand can say that they did well, but they still have to identify their best playing XI before next year. Brendon McCullum raised the point earlier and this series did not do much for that.

What New Zealand does have is a wealth of options to choose from. Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert, Colin Munro, and Glenn Philips are all in contention for opening batsmen. Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, and Devon Conway will vie for their spots in the middle-order.Guptill, Williamson, and Taylor appear to be certain selections while Seifert is the first-choice wicket-keeper for now. Williamson did not play in this series but walks into the XI by being captain and one of the best batsmen on the team.

For all-rounders, picking between Mitchell Santner, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, and Colin de Grandhomme is a difficult task. With Santner now batting at 7 and commanding selection as the first-choice spinner, only one other all-rounder can make it to the XI. Going by current form, this would be Neesham. But Daryl did not get a chance to play in this series and de Grandhomme missed out due to injury.

Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi, Kyle Jamieson, Scott Kuggelejn, and Hamish Bennett are all competing among the bowling options. With next year's World T20 in India likely benefitting spin bowling, Ish Sodhi finds himself in contention. His leg-spin could add variety to the slow left-arm bowling of Santner.

Boult and Southee would appear to be New Zealand's first choice for pace bowlers, with Ferguson close following a 5-wicket haul in the first T20I and his ability to make batsmen uncomfortable with his short, fast spells.

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Picking the first-choice XI after this series and sticking with it is a matter of urgency for New Zealand.

West Indies: Putting together a good bowling attack

Kieron Pollard was West Indies
Kieron Pollard was West Indies's standout player in this series.

West Indies went into this series with a few of their experienced players missing - Andre Russell, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Dwayne Bravo, and Jason Holder. And the lack of experience showed.

Only Sheldon Cottrell had an economy rate of under 9 for West Indies in this series, but he only managed one wicket in 2 matches. Oshane Thomas was the West Indies' highest wicket-taker with 3 wickets, but he conceded runs at a rate of 9.57 an over.

A front-line spin bowler was not selected until the third T20I. All-rounder Fabian Allen was used as a spin-bowling option in the first two. He picked up 1 wicket in 5 overs with an economy rate of 13.40.

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Kieron Pollard, Andre Fletcher, and Allen found themselves as the only batsmen to emerge from the series with any credit. Pollard and Allen ensured West Indies had a total to defend in the first T20I, while Fletcher provided quick starts as an opening batsman.

The pair of Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran did not fare well in this series, with Hetmyer's strike rate an abysmal 69.44 and Pooran only managing 8 runs in 2 innings.

It is the bowling that West Indies need to figure quickly. Cottrell and Thomas are incredibly talented and would make for good selections, as would Hayden Walsh Jr.. But they need more experienced players around them. The likes of Russell, Holder, Narine, and Bravo would be needed to strengthen the bowling and provide some batting depth.

West Indies have a good team and several talented players to select from. They have time to find their best combination and iron out their flaws before next year's World T20. But they must do so urgently.

Published 03 Dec 2020, 09:02 IST
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