New Zealand v West Indies: Hosts have most boxes ticked against West Indies

Kalyani Mangale
03 Mar 2022
New Zealand v West Indies: Hosts have most boxes ticked against West Indies

Sophie Devine and Stefanie Taylor © Getty Images

7,740 days after Rebecca Rolls’ famous ‘ice cream catch’ at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln, which handed the hosts their first-ever World Cup, the global tournament is back in New Zealand. The eight-team event, postponed once due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will start with the hosts taking on West Indies at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.

The hosts are coming to this World Cup after a dominating 4-1 victory against India, which saw them chase 250+ scores twice. Captain Sophie Devine mentioned that the highlight of the series was the contribution from multiple players during the entire series. Former captain Suzie Bates has recovered well from the shoulder injury that put her out of the game for almost a year. Devine herself was at her attacking best against Australia in the warm-up game, where she scored an unbeaten 161 in a chase of 321.

In the series against India, Amelia Kerr showed that she is ready for greater responsibility. Batting at three, Kerr amassed 353 runs at an unbelievable average of 117.66, including four 50+ scores. Coming back after a brief mental health break, Kerr has developed herself into an indispensable asset for her team. Currently ranked fourth amongst the all-rounders in the ICC rankings, Kerr’s right arm leg spin has often proved vital for New Zealand in the past. It will be interesting to see how Devine manages the young player in the opening match.

After Lauren Down’s unfortunate thumb injury setback, New Zealand’s lower-middle order looks a little shaky. Maddy Green, Hayley Jensen, and Katey Martin bring a lot of experience, but apart from Green, they haven’t fired in recent times. It will be interesting to see if Devine decides to stay at the top of the batting order or bats in the middle overs in the first match of the tournament.

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Compared to their batting depth, New Zealand have a relatively wobbly bowling unit. Even when they chased down the mammoth total of 321 against Australia in the warm-up game, they were guilty of leaking plenty of runs. In the other warm-up game against Pakistan, New Zealand bowlers could not defend 229 runs even after reducing the opposition to 91 for 4 in the 27th over. It will be a great headache for the leadership if the West Indies' top-order gets a good start.

West Indies, on the other hand, have more batting worries ahead of the first match of the tournament. West Indies lost both of their warm-up matches due to poor batting efforts. While speaking in the pre-match press conference, West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor admitted the need to go beyond 200 runs while batting. “To be competitive, we have to be scoring over 200 runs. In the two games (warm-up) that we played, we didn’t do so. Moving forward we need to work at it.”

In their recently-concluded series against South Africa, West Indies showed their potential with the bat. Deandra Dottin’s supreme form with the bat led them in the first two ODIs but the batting unit faded away in the final two ODIs, which West Indies lost. In one of those ODIs, they were bowled out for 203 even after a promising start provided by Kycia Knight. West Indies’ lower-middle order is prone to collapses and Chedean Nation will have to play a crucial role.

Hayley Matthews is one of the biggest weapons West Indies have in their arsenal. The all-rounder has been one of the top off-spinners in the world for a year now and finds herself at no. five in the batting line-up. Her form with the bat and ball has been exceptional since the Pakistan tour in November 2021. The 23-year old, playing her second ODI World Cup, certainly has more responsibility on her shoulders than the previous editions.

ALSO READ: Stafanie Taylor: Our coaching staff has put us in a good space

West Indies' pace unit, led by Shamilia Connell, needs to fire against the in-form New Zealand top order if they are to challenge the hosts in the World Cup opener. Young Karishma Ramharack and experienced Afy Fletcher will find themselves taking care of the spin unit with Matthews. Veteran Anisa Mohammed is just a wicket away from becoming the first spinner to take 300+ international wickets. West Indies would certainly like to add a victory to the celebration of that individual achievement as well.

A month-long tournament will kick-start with the backdrop of Mount Maunganui. Let’s hope the tournament reaches new heights, starting with the opening match. 

Predicted XI: 

New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Amelia Kerr Amy Satterthwaite (vc), Maddy Green, Hayley Jensen, Katey Martin (wk), Frances Mackay, Jess Kerr,  Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu,  

West Indies: Deandra Dottin, Rashada Williams, Kycia Knight, Stafanie Taylor (c), Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Shemaine Campbelle, Chinelle Henry, Aaliyah Alleyne, Anisa Mohammed (vc),   Shamilia Connell.

 

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