New Zealand vs West Indies: Second Test Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

We take a look at the second Test between New Zealand and the West Indies set to get underway on Saturday 9 December.

Any suggestion that New Zealand might be a bit rusty after more than six months without Test cricket was promptly quashed in Wellington, where a convincing victory has them on course for a comfortable series win.

The West Indies, meanwhile, have lost a large amount of the momentum gained against Zimbabwe and England - and must avoid slipping to a series whitewash in Hamilton.

New Zealand v West Indies | 9 December - 13 December | Seddon Park, Hamilton 

To Win Match
New Zealand 7/20 | Draw 3/1 | West Indies 10/1

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New Zealand
The hosts will welcome the return of Tim Southee, who was on paternity leave during the series opener. Southee wasn't exactly missed, as Neil Wagner effectively assumed the role of spearhead alongside Trent Boult, but should replace Matt Henry regardless.

Wagner was prolific in Wellington, adapting to conditions and circumstances superbly. The Kiwis must not be tempted to elevate him to new-ball duty, instead allowing him to do his thing with the old one.

BJ Watling will remain sidelined, affording wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Blundell another chance to impress on the back of a century on Test debut and a sound showing behind the stumps. He enjoyed a good battle with Jason Holder, but won't this time, as the opposition captain has been suspended.

Kane Williamson and Mitchell Santner could do with some runs, having failed in the first Test, while the latter's role with the ball will come more into play at Seddon Park than it did at the Basin Reserve.

The Black Caps don't have a particularly good Test record at the venue overall, but haven't been defeated here in the longest format of the international game in four years. That stretch includes a big win over their current opposition in 2013.

West Indies
Kraigg Brathwaite will lead the side in the absence of Holder, whose sluggish over-rate in Napier has seen him banned. Brathwaite can't let the additional responsibility detract from his primary role with the bat.

The visitors have to find a way to arrest their penchant for collapses. The top-order pledged plenty in the first Test, only for the collective and individual inadequacies of the middle-order batsmen to undo all the hard work.

Sunil Ambris will likely be retained despite an underwhelming debut, but who will replace Holder remains in the balance. Seamer Alzarri Joseph is the leading contender, unless the brains trust opt for wrist spinner Devendra Bishoo.

Brathwaite and fellow opener Kieran Powell are survivors of 2013's defeat at this ground - and hold the key this time. They must get the tourists off to a solid start, particularly if asked to bat first on a cloudy, potentially drizzly first morning.

The Windies are a substantially stronger unit in limited-overs cricket, and have already named their squad for the upcoming ODI series against the Kiwis, but can't afford to focus there yet. This Test is the task at hand.

Verdict: New Zealand 7/20
It's tough to see the West Indians bounce back from defeat inside four days, especially against a New Zealand outfit back at full strength with the return of Southee.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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