New Zealand hosts West Indies in the first Test match of the series under ICC World Test Championship 2019-2021. With the new rule being applied, it’s a do-die game for both sides.
Match Timings: Dec 03, 3:30 AM IST
World Test Championship is back with the first clash between New Zealand and West Indies. Both sides will fight for vital 120 points in this series. Either a draw or a defeat can spoil the points table game for both sides. New Zealand has been outstanding at home, and they had recently defeated India 2-0 in its last WTC assignment to earn 120 points from a possible 120. Due to COVID-19, ICC made changes in the WTC standings as now, the percentage of points will decide the finalists of the championship. New Zealand can take the top spot if they earn 240 points from the next four Tests against West Indies and Pakistan. The Blackcaps occupy the fourth spot in the table, and they can boost their chances during home summer.
New Zealand rested its major players, and for the Tests, Kane Williamson will be back along with Trent Boult. Will Young will mark his international debut in the first Test, replacing wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling, who is suffering from a hamstring injury, remains a question. Tom Blundell will take the gloves behind the stumps. Tom Latham and Kane Williamson are the key figures for New Zealand, followed by Taylor and Nicholls in middle-order. Defeating New Zealand on its own soil is a heavy task for West Indies. Jason Holder-led side had previously played against England in UK’s home summer and lost the series 2-1 after winning the first Test. West Indies’ WTC campaign is not up to the mark, and they have to show the extra-ordinary game to finish in the top two.
Phill Simmons’ men appeared in two warm-up fixtures and had a good practice against New Zealand A. Darren Bravo scored 135, and Shamarh Brooks played a fine knock of 80 in a three-day match. In the second four-day fixture, Kraigg Brathwaite scored 246, his best First-class score, and Bravo scored yet another half-century with scoring 93. West Indies have the capability to surprise New Zealand, but first, they would try to aim for a tight finish in this game. If West Indies earn 30 points from this game from a possible 60, it would be a big moral victory.
Brathwaite and Campbell will open for West Indies with Shamarh Brooks to bat at No.3. Darren Bravo and Roston Chase will play the sheet-anchors. The only tension will occur between Jermaine Blackwood and Rahkeem Cornwall. If Holder goes for the extra-batting option, he can pick Blackwood over Cornwall. Chemar Holder can earn the Test debut in place of Alzarri Joseph.
Seddon Park’s surface is a batting-friendly wicket. It should favor the batsmen more. Pacers will have an early advantage in the morning session and on the 4th and 5th day, we can expect a bit of spin in the game. Batting first is an ideal call after winning the toss.
Tom Latham, Will Young, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell (WK), Kyle Jamieson, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, and Neil Wagner
John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich (WK), Blackwood/Rahkeem Cornwall, Jason Holder (C), Shannon Gabriel, Chemar Holder, and Kemar Roach
WTC 2019-21 – M: 7, Runs: 477, Avg: 39.75
Last series vs India – M: 2, Runs: 122, Avg: 40.66
WTC 2019-21 – M: 6, Wickets: 33, Avg: 18.81
Last series vs India – M: 3, Wickets: 10, Avg: 30.10
WTC 2019-21 – M: 5, Runs: 218, Wickets: 18
Last series vs England – M: 3, Wickets: 10, Avg: 30.10
Last series vs England – M: 3, Runs: 176, Best: 68
Last warmup fixture – 246 vs NZ A