Why the West Indies and New Zealand T20 World Cup game could be a critical encounter

NewsBharati    12-Jun-2024 18:21:44 PM
Total Views |
-Devdeep Tyagi

As we are nearing the halfway stage of the biggest battle in the world of T20 Cricket, the ICC T20 2024 World Cup, a massive contest is dawning upon us.

As hosts West Indies take on New Zealand in what is expected to be a cracker of a contest, the Group C of this 20-team and five group World Cup could be seeing its biggest game yet since the India versus Pakistan clash.
 West Indies and New Zealand T20 World Cup game
While New Zealand will look to quickly rebound from what has been a shocking loss to Afghanistan in their World Cup opener, the West Indies would be keen to keep up with their winning momentum, having beaten both Papua New Guinea and Uganda thus far.

Having said that, New Zealand will realise the importance of the contest as being hugely critical; another loss here and they could find themselves on the plane back home.

While on the other hand, the West Indies will be eager to play a better brand of cricket than they have thus far. They’ve lost wickets in quick intervals and have often found partnerships hard to come by.

It wouldn’t make anyone a master observer of the game to recollect just how hard they found to chase down the paltry ask posed by PNG in their campaigner opener on June 2.

That the West Indies team took no fewer than 19 overs to score the necessary runs was in itself a shocking sight. But what was most disturbing from a Caribbean point of view was to note that half the side was sent back to the dugout in pursuit of a modest ask.

New Zealand on the other hand with some quality and match winning bowlers in their hut such as Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Mitch Santner would hope to put some early brakes on big hitting batsmen of high class and capability, such as Nicholas Pooran.

The BlackCaps will certainly recall how someone so dashing and otherwise free scoring as Pooran was struggling at one stage in the PNG game; the left hander was on 5 off 15 in the early part of his innings. It could be a promising contest between the musings of the white ball and the otherwise punishing willow. It could be a gripping contest that could hit peak crescendo should the West Indian big hitters such as Russell, Charles, King, Pooran, Rutherford get going against a sorted and match winning bowling attack.

Having said that, what are the critical areas that the West Indians must watch out or guard against?

The opening partnership conundrum

So far, the best opening stand between Brandon King and Johnson Charles, both of whom have played the two games so far, remains the 42-run partnership that was achieved against Uganda. In their first game of the tournament, Johnson Charles was sent back for a golden duck. A first ball dismissal against PNG wasn’t really the best way to open his campaign.

Then, in the game against Uganda, when it seemed that all was going just fine, King departed with the first wicket stand pointing to 41.

The West Indies will have to find a way to protect their wickets if they are to take New Zealand by some surprise. Playing cautious cricket might come handy!

The Pooran factor

No ground is big enough and no boundary rope far enough for Pooran to clear when the man gets going. But so far, what’s seemed like a bit of a predicament is that Pooran hasn’t quite got going. He did make an impressive run-a-ball 27 in his tournament opener against PNG, but in that very contest the spinners found a way to keep him quiet.

When he uses his feat to play in an attacking manner, cricket becomes a sport of heightened aesthetic pleasure, a visually compelling sight. But that must all come to the fore and to fruition at the Brian Lara Academy in the next few hours.

Dot balls

The West Indies often seem to stand in their own way where it comes to winning games and from holding an edge over their opponents. Among their biggest weaknesses in this version of cricket is the percentage of dot balls they incur or play. In their first game of this T20 World Cup, they played 54 dot balls. That’s a crazy number given there are only 120 deliveries in which to score. In the game against the BlackCaps, the West Indies will have to truncate this critical weakness. On pitches that aren’t flat- they will have to find a way to score off more deliveries than they generally do.

Having said it all, the West Indies captain Powell and his able men must play close attention to a piece of stat that could be definitive in the end. From a historical point of view, the Kiwis hold the edge over their Caribbean counterparts; New Zealand have won 11 out of the 19 T20I’s that they’ve played against the West Indies with the Windies winning just 6 and two games ending in a no result.

But what’s rather interesting is that so far, the two have faced one other just once in a T20 World Cup encounter and that was back in 2012. The Windies would love the fact that they won that game back then.

But can they win another against the mighty talented Kiwis on this occasion?