With two editions of the ICC T20 World Cup set to take place over the next two years – one each in 2021 and ’22 – teams will definitely place huge importance on the 20-over format at the international level in the near future.
On Friday (November 27), New Zealand and West Indies will begin a three-match T20 International series at Eden Park, Auckland. Both teams will be playing their first T20I matches since cricket was brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic in March. While West Indies have played Test cricket since then, this will be New Zealand’s first international match in over eight months.
New Zealand have had the upper hand in T20Is against West Indies till date, having won seven out of 13 matches. In the last T20I series between the two teams, which was in 2017-18, the Black Caps won 2-0 with one game ending in a no result due to rain.
Overall: Matches – 13 | New Zealand – 7 Wins | West Indies – 5 Wins | No Result – 1
Last 5 Matches: New Zealand – 3 Wins | West Indies – 1 Win | No Result – 1
Regular cricket viewers will be aware that Eden Park in Auckland happens to be a very batting-friendly venue which is mainly down to its short boundaries. Hence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, in T20Is since 2018, the average run-rate here has been 9.5 with the average first innings total at 181.
A bowling strike rate of 18.5 during the same period, though, indicates that there is points to be had from bowlers as well. In 16 T20I innings since 2018 at Eden Park, 94 wickets have fallen out of which one was a run-out which means that bowlers are taking 5.8 wickets per innings which isn’t a bad rate at all.
So, while conditions might be quite favourable to batsmen, picking a decent amount of bowling options won’t be such a bad idea if recent stats are anything to go by at this stadium. While bowlers might go for runs, wickets count for much more than a good economy rate in fantasy cricket.
In eight T20I matches held in Auckland since 2018, the team batting second have had more success, winning six of those games.
It’ll come as no surprise that pacers have bowled and taken over two-thirds of the overs and wickets respectively in T20Is at Eden Park since 2018. That is usually the case across all stadiums in New Zealand where faster bowlers tend to do a bulk of the bowling.
Interestingly, though, there isn’t much difference between the bowling strike rates of pacers (18.3) and spinners (18.7) at the stadium during the above-mentioned period. So, picking spinners shouldn’t be out of your thoughts. Since 2018, no-one has taken more T20I wickets than Ish Sodhi (9) at Eden Park and that’s why we have picked him in our side.
Devon Conway is expected to make his international debut and, with the form he has displayed in domestic cricket over the last year, we have selected him in our team. If Glenn Phillips plays, you can consider adding him to your side, maybe in place of James Neesham.
We couldn’t select Sheldon Cottrell due to budget constraints, but if you are choosing Phillips over Neesham, then you should have enough credits to add the West Indian left-arm pacer to your team.
There could be a few interesting match-ups too.
Martin Guptill coming up against Sheldon Cottrell will be a contest that is likely to set the tone for the New Zealand innings. Many might remember Cottrell dismissing Guptill for a golden duck during the 2019 World Cup and the Jamaica-born pacer has had the better of the Black Caps opener in T20 cricket as well. While there has been only one dismissal, Guptill would really like to improve on his batting strike rate of 94.7 against Cottrell in the 20-over format.
While Guptill has struggled against Cottrell, fellow New Zealand batsman Glenn Phillips has enjoyed success against the left-arm quick. Across five T20 innings, Phillips has scored at a superb strike rate of 184.8 against Cottrell and hasn’t been dismissed in 33 deliveries to date. Each of these five innings took place in the Caribbean Premier League and it’ll be interesting to see how this contest plays out at the international level.
Nicholas Pooran is likely to come up against Ish Sodhi in the middle-overs and you wouldn’t be surprised if the West Indian wicketkeeper-batsman takes the attack to the New Zealand legspinner. The two of them have faced off once previously in T20 cricket, which was during CPL 2020, and Pooran took Sodhi to the cleaners on that occasion en route to a match-winning hundred. That encounter will be fresh in the minds of both players.
While Tim Southee is a fine new-ball bowler, he has tended to leak runs towards the back end of the innings in recent times. So, it’ll be interesting to see if he does bowl at the death in this match. If he does, then there’s a high possibility that the two captains might face each other. While Southee has dismissed Kieron Pollard thrice in 40 deliveries in T20 cricket so far, the West Indies skipper has an impressive batting strike rate of 200 against the New Zealand captain.
Kieron Pollard has been in superb form in T20 cricket over the past couple of years and that’s why we have selected him as our captain. Since being appointed as West Indies captain, Pollard has scored 220 runs at an average of 36.6 and strike rate of 170.5 in seven T20I innings. He has done reasonably well with the ball as well, accounting for 12 dismissals at a strike rate of 12 as skipper.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Pollard could score 11-28 runs and could take 0-1 wickets in this match.
Ross Taylor has been one of the most consistent performers in international cricket over the last decade. While his T20I showings often haven’t been as good as his performances in the other two formats, he is still a batsman who could make a telling contribution. He had a decent outing against India earlier in the year, notching up two 50+ scores in five T20I innings and will be looking to build on that here.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Taylor could score 10-27 runs in this match.
Shimron Hetmyer’s inconsistent form has been frustrating at times, but among West Indies’ top three, he’s the batsman you’d probably want to back. Hetmyer had a mixed Indian Premier League campaign recently, but it’s important to remember that he was batting down the order and often got very few deliveries to make an impact there. In this series, he is likely to bat at No.3 which means there is more potential for big runs.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Hetmyer could score 11-28 runs in this match.
Lockie Ferguson has played only eight T20Is so far and has taken 14 wickets in those matches. In fact, he has picked up at least one wicket in all but one of those games. While it is a small sample size, when we also consider the fact that he has picked up 69 wickets in 37 ODIs, then you realise what a valuable wicket-taker he is in the shorter formats.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Ferguson could take 1-2 wickets in this match.