New Zealand v West Indies: First T20 Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

We preview the first T20 International between New Zealand and the West Indies to be played at the Saxton Oval in Nelson. 

New Zealand have gradually asserted their authority since late November - and can head into the new year with an unblemished record against the tourists.

Whitewashed in the Test and ODI series against the same opposition, the West Indies really should fare better in a format they'll be the first to admit is more favourable.

New Zealand v West Indies | Friday, 29 December | Saxton Oval, Nelson | 4:00

To Win Match
New Zealand 67/100 | Tie 35/1 | West Indies 5/4

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New Zealand
In come Anaru Kitchen, Tom Bruce and Glenn Phillips, as the Black Caps continue to run the rule over the country's most talented T20 cricketers. Ish Sodhi has been preferred to fellow leg-spinner Todd Astle - and Martin Guptill is back from injury.

Tim Southee will captain the XI for the series opener, while Ross Taylor will be rested for matches two and three after the first. Southee must not let the additional responsibility detract from his primary role with the ball.

Combating the Windies' slew of big-hitters will be among the Kiwis' primary tasks, but they were hardly troubled in the ODIs - and shouldn't be again, particularly if Chris Gayle's absence continues.

Friday's venue has never hosted a T20I, but New Zealand have played six ODIs here. They won four of those - twice batting first, twice batting second. The latter seems the stronger option this time, too.

The New Zealanders and West Indians have met 10 times in T20I cricket. Amazingly, they've shared three ties, while the Kiwis have won on four occasions. Last time out, in 2014, though, the Windies won.

West Indies
Samuel Badree, Rayad Emrit and Andre Fletcher are back for the visitors, while Ashley Nurse has been deemed surplus to requirements. Fletcher's selection will prove particularly important if Gayle isn't around.

Fletcher is hardly a like-for-like replacement, but will provide Evin Lewis-esque impetus at the top of the order - and won't be easily intimidated by the likes of Trent Boult and Seth Rance.

The visiting batsmen really struggled with the shorter deliveries sent down by Boult and company in the ODI series. This barrage won't likely relent - and fast bowler Jason Holder and others would do well to return the fire.

The West Indies have never beaten the Black Caps in New Zealand, only in the Caribbean and the United States. For this record to change, one surmises wrist spinner Badree must put in a big performance.

The change of captaincy, from Holder to Carlos Brathwaite, won't necessarily help the quest for consistency, but either way, the West Indies need to heed coach Stuart Law's insistence that "talk is cheap" and results are required.

Verdict: New Zealand 67/100
Two-time World Twenty20 champions, the West Indies won't clinch their maiden win of the tour yet, but should snap up at least one before mid-January.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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