Rain whitewashed the second T20 between New Zealand and West Indies, leaving the series still 1-0 with one game to go. It took something special to keep the Windies from losing, and the Kiwis from winning, but the third T20 promises to bring more misery for the visitors.
Trent Boult returns to the team after being rested for two games, strengthening an already versatile attack. The Windies have a chance at leveling the series and ending their tour on a high, but the odds do not seem in their favor despite a mixed bag of a performance in the second game. Can they start off 2018 on a positive note, or will the Kiwis ensure that the visitors go winless?
Carlos Brathwaite (c), Samuel Badree, Ronsford Beaton, Rayad Emrit, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Mohammed, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse
Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Tom Bruce, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Anaru Kitchen, Glenn Phillips, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Colin Munro
Where the teams stand
Besides the carnage by Munro, the Windies were competitive with the ball, exploiting the inexperience of the Kiwi batting lineup to take four wickets despite the massive score of 104 in 9 overs. The setbacks would have ensured trouble for the Kiwis, with only Williamson amongst the established batsmen remaining. Brathwaite and Williams got pummeled once again in the overs they bowled, a worrying sign for the third T20 given that their performance in the first one was similarly counterproductive. If they can somehow get Munro out early, they might be able to put some serious pressure on the Kiwis. Munro has been the main catalyst for run-scoring amongst the Black Caps, and his wicket early on could prove to be priceless. Williamson and Guptill also remain potent threats to be dealt with.
The Windies’ batting lineup is a major cause for concern. The team packs some genuine weapons of mass destruction, but their unreliability is proving to be a significant Achilles heel for the squad. The onus here lies squarely on Chris Gayle. As the senior most player in the team, he needs to get the team off to a good start if the batting is to do well. His team needs his big hitting power now more than ever, and if he does not deliver, it could be an early trip back to the hotel for the boys. None of the other batsmen have been able to shoulder the responsibility of scoring runs, costing the side many games on the tour. If Gayle fails to do so, Brathwaite might want to elevate himself to number 3 and swing his bat in the middle. It worked in the World Cup final, it might just work again.
The Kiwis are comfortably in the driver’s seat with respect to the third T20. Their batting has been firing so far, their bowlers did well in the one game they bowled in, far exceeding the Windies. Their batting remains a concern, especially in the absence of Ross Taylor, who was their main run-getter in the ODIs. Munro has so far fulfilled the role of the aggressor at the top with massive success, but he cannot be the one to perform in every game. Guptill and Williamson will also have to share some of the burden of scoring if the Kiwis are to do well in the last game. Glenn Phillips chipped in with a handy half-century in the first T20, and if one of the youngsters can come up with a similar innings, the Kiwis will surely dominate proceedings once again
Trent Boult returning is a huge boost for the bowling and the team as a whole. The only way the Windies can gain an upper hand in the match is through a batting blitzkrieg, and Boult will make that a lot harder to materialize. Bracewell has also been amongst the wickets, and the spinners have been economical as well. Unless the visitors come up with an inspired batting performance, the bowling looks capable of withstanding anything thrown at them.
New Zealand win. The Windies are far too weak as a team to win, despite having a batting heavy lineup. Their players have failed to show up all tour, and that is unlikely to change for the last game.
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