The West Indies are set and ready to make the switch from the white ball to the red ball as they gear up to face New Zealand in the Digicel Test Series. The Windies are confident following their domination with the white ball in the two-match Digicel T20 Series and five-match Digicel ODI Series.
They will now look to slow down the tempo but increase the intensity as they prepare for two Digicel Test matches, the first of which bowls off at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground on Wednesday at 10 a.m. (9 a.m. Jamaica Time).
Captain Darren Sammy made it clear his players will look to maintain the “momentum” gained from the “positive results” in the limited-overs matches. He added that the team is focussed squarely on a series victory to end this year’s international home campaign on a high note.
“We haven’t won a (Test) series at home for a long time. We’re playing some good cricket at the moment and we will go into this series looking to win,” Sammy said on Monday. “We showed encouraging signs when we played (at home) against Australia back in April and we want to show that we are growing as a team.
“We had six of our guys playing for the President’s XI against New Zealand last weekend so everyone is in shape. Roach came back, he got wickets and bowled well; Chanderpaul played very well; Deonarine got a hundred and Fudadin looked quite good, so we will go into the match with confidence. The key is that our guys have been playing. Today we had a good training session, so everyone is preparing well for Wednesday.”
Sammy said it was good for the team to have the experience of opener Chris Gayle back in the line-up to bolster the batting at the top of the order. The 32-year-old is preparing for his 92nd Test match. He has an impressive record of 6,373 runs at an average of over 41 runs per innings. The powerful left-hander has scored 13 Test centuries, including two memorable triple centuries.
The Windies also have in their 13-man squad Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who is ranked at Number 2 in the International Cricket Council’s Test match batting rankings. As he approaches his 38th birthday, the youthful looking left-hander has an amazing record of 10,290 runs at an average of over 50 – including 25 centuries – in 142 Test matches.
“It is very exciting to have Chris back. I know he is looking forward to being back out in the white clothes. Not just Chris, but Shiv, who is always ready for battle, and everyone in the team. We are eager to get started on Wednesday. With Chris coming back, we have the experience at the top of the order; we can see off the new ball and put up some good totals on the board. You would back our bowlers to come and get 20 wickets for us.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand captain Ross Taylor is optimistic his team can turn things around in the Tests after going under in the ODIs and T20s. They were also made to work hard by the West Indies Cricket Board’s President’s XI in the three-day warm-up match which ended on Sunday.
“We got what we wanted out of the warm-up game. We got two bats (innings) and the bowlers had a good run out. We came away with a draw. We hadn’t played with the red ball for a while so it was good to spend some time in the middle,” Taylor said.
The captain said experienced left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori will be the trump card in the bowling department. He took six wickets against the President’s XI.
“You can’t pay for experience. Vettori showed what a class player he is during the three-day match and will be handful on that wicket against what is a good West Indies team. We will need to bowl well against their left-handers.”
The two teams will have training sessions on Tuesday at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground on Tuesday as they look ahead to the start of the match on Wednesday.
West Indies Squad: Darren Sammy (captain), Denesh Ramdin (vice captain), Adrian Barath, Tino Best, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Assad Fudadin, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieran Powell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels
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