Thursday, 29 March 2007

Preview: West Indies vs New Zealand

It's all happening with regards to this fixture. West Indies play for the third consecutive day, following the requirement of their reserve day against Australia and New Zealand are realing after an injury crisis. Brian Lara has played down the significance of playing over three days and he is right to. They have still played the same amount of cricket, it has just been less concentrated. The defeat against Australia will have been rather demoralising though and this game could decide the West Indies' future in this tournament. Should they lose, they may be leaving themselves with too much to do against sides like Sri Lanka and South Africa. They must improve their bowling performance and they do miss a top class front line spinner.

New Zealand meanwhile are going into the match with a much changed batting line-up. Peter Fulton has been promoted to opener following star fielder Lou Vincent's injury and Hamish Marshall is likely to come into the side at three for the recovering Ross Taylor. The bowling is uneffected, with Shane Bond, James Franklin, Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris and possibly Jeetan Patel, the main candidates. A lot will likely depend on the start for New Zealand. Fulton and Stephen Fleming are not known for their blistering strike rates and with Marshall not having played much cricket of late, a slow start could lead to mistakes and an increasing reliance on the middle order. This match should be keenly contested. A lot is riding on it, especially for the home side.

Prediction: Hard to call, New Zealand's injuries have opened the door for the Windies and they need the win more at this stage. Therefore, I'm going for the West Indies, by a narrow margin.

Players to watch: Ramnaresh Sarwan and Jacob Oram.

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