to seal series win
West Indies enter tomorrow’s fourth One-Day International against New Zealand in St Kitts one victory away from a rare series triumph over a major Test-playing nation.†But they will also enter the match smarting from a heavy defeat and with the knowledge that their under-belly was exposed following the Kiwis’ successful application of Operation Get Chris Gayle Early.†
The collapse that followed Gayle’s dismissal for 11 was all too familiar and might have sown a further seed of doubt that over the past decade, has been a constant 12th man in the West Indies dressing room.†
On a placid track, at a small ground, chasing a manageable total, against a moderate attack, West Indies folded at the first pressure situation to appear on the tour.
The Kiwis had cleverly fed that seed of doubt by continuously hinting at Gayle’s importance at the top of the order and the possible fragility to follow afterwards if he fell early.†
“We always talked about just exposing the rest of their top order, let alone their middle order, to bring pressure, which they hadn’t been under for four games on the tour. . . We knew all along that he was going to be the real danger man, and we talked about just trying to get him out,” all-rounder Jacob Oram said.
He, however, acknowledged that his side would not assume that after one cheap dismissal, they had Gayle’s number.†
“No way do we feel like we’re on top of Chris Gayle. He’s still probably averaging 80 or something like that for the tour so far, so we know he’s going to be a massive thorn in our sides, and we’ve got to work just as hard to dismiss him and then work on the others,” Oram added.
But what about the others? West Indies are likely to field the same team that lost on Wednesday but question marks must remain over their use of Johnson Charles at the top of the order.†
With three half-centuries in 17 first-class matches at an average of 19.32, one fifty in 18 List A matches at an average of 20.94, Johnson has thus far added to those figures, 12 international matches for the regional side without a single half-century.†These are statistics that might be ignored if he were batting in the lower half of the order, or was a bowling all-rounder. But he is an opening batsman, and in the shortened forms of the game his prime slot at the top of the order has been repeatedly wasted with mini-cameos.†
Dwayne Smith has looked the part at the top of the order but needs to make greater use of his opportunities. He has gifted his wicket to the Kiwis in his last two completed innings and, considering his history with the regional selection panel, should treasure his wicket more.†
Antiguan wicketkeeper Devon Thomas gets another chance to impress at the international level when he steps in to replace regular keeper Denesh Ramdin, who will be in Trinidad and Tobago tomorrow exchanging wedding vows.
Thomas’ glove work has never been questioned but he needs to marry that skill with more consistent batting at the international level.†
New Zealand, plagued by injuries their entire tour, will be strengthened with the inclusion of Brendon McCullum. He is expected to slot right in as wicketkeeper and No. 3 batsman. His arrival coincides with the unfortunate leg injury to their best batsman on tour so far, wicketkeeper B J Watling.
The promising Doug Bracewell, previously sidelined with a slight back strain, has been training and could be recalled.†
Today, Coach Ottis Gibson stressed that his squad was not a one-man unit. Tomorrow they get the chance to prove it.†(WG)
New Zealand: (possible) 1 Rob Nicol, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Brendon McCullum (capt), 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Dean Brownlie, 6 Tom Latham, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Doug Bracewell, 11 Kyle Mills West Indies: (possible) 1 Johnson Charles/Lendl Simmons, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Dwayne Smith, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Devon Thomas (wk), 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Sunil Narine ††