Deadline: December 11, 3:30 AM IST
Venue: Basin Reserve, Wellington
Kane Williamson has taken paternity leave and will be unavailable for a few weeks, while Kemar Roach has returned home due to his father’s demise.
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We are now used to seeing spine-chilling green tracks in New Zealand. West Indies bundled out for 138 and then were stuttering at 27 for 4 while following on.
The matters, however, become worse when New Zealand bowl first in their own den, as teams struggle to get past 200 runs in the first innings. West Indies will be hoping (read praying) that they win the toss and elect to bowl. If that does not happen, the best fantasy tip would be to power up your teams with New Zealand pacers.
Tom Latham will not only have to lead New Zealand on the field but also in the batting department. Not to our surprise, he has been the best opener in the last three years. In the opening Test, it was his 84 that kept Williamson relaxed at the other end.
Jermaine Blackwood has been trying to rescue West Indies since the English summer. He did pull them out of the woods at Southampton with a gutsy 95, but the others haven’t been giving their best. His hundred in the first Test, nonetheless, during the follow-on kept the fans hooked to the scorecard at least. If anything, he is the most reliable West Indian batsman in fantasy cricket.
Neil Wagner, the No. 2 bowler in ICC Test Rankings, worked his magic yet again. He took 6 wickets and these included the likes of Blackwood, Bravo, Chase, among others.
At No. 4 in the same list is Tim Southee. It was his four-wicket haul in the first innings that pushed the visitors on the backfoot. Not to forget that there’s Trent Boult as well. He didn’t have a great outing, but looking at the pitch, he might as well trap the batsmen with his swing.
Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls will have to hold the fort in the absence of Kane Williamson. While Taylor is an old warhorse, Nicholls has a superior temperament.
Pitted against them will be Jason Holder, the No. 2 all-rounder in Test cricket. He could not take any wicket, but his economy of 1.9 kept New Zealand on their toes.
Alzarri Joseph showed a different side of his. He smacked 86 runs including 9 fours and 3 sixes, showing his mainstay batsmen how to get the job done. With the ball, he could have done a better job.
New Zealand: Tom Latham (c), Tom Blundell, Will Young, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Daryl Mitchell, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult
West Indies: John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Joshua da Silva (wk), Jason Holder (c), Alzarri Joseph, Chemar Holder, Shannon Gabriel