Any questions about the slowness of the pitch at Lauderhill, Florida were laid to rest by an exhibition of power hitting from the West Indian big guns, Gayle and Pollard in the first T20. The West Indies batsmen struck twelve sixes and went on to set a total of 209, their highest in T20 Internationals.
July 1, Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground, Lauderhill
Starting Time: 1400 Local Time (1800 GMT time)
As anticipated the surface for the 1st T20 was not the slow dull pitch used two years ago between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. The slow pitch been injected with life and heavily favored the batsmen. Saturday’s game saw Smith starting the innings with a first ball six, and over 360 runs were scored by the two sides in less than 40 overs. This could be a precedent for another run fest that might await us on Sunday.
The troubles for New Zealand did not stop after their crushing defeat in the first game. Just one day into the tour, and their side has already been hit by a couple of injuries.
Kiwi skipper Ross Taylor injured his left shoulder while attempting to catch Kieron Pollard. He will be ruled out of the 2nd T20 and is likely to miss the ODI series starting on July 5 as well. Left arm spinner Ronnie Hira has also been ruled out of Sundays T20 after he dislocatd his finger in the first match. He will fly home to New Zealand since he is not a part of the ODI squad. The Black Caps are yet to name a stand-in captain, the regular vice captain Brendon McCullum has been rested for the limited overs formats during this tour.
All rounder Jacob Oram, jarred his knee while fielding and will undergo a fitness test prior to Sunday’s game.
The West Indies possibly could toy with their combination a bit. They might give an opportunity to leg spinner Samuel Badree to make his international debut.
After the one sided result in the first T20, and the list of injuries piling up on the Kiwi side, the second T20 is likely to be the same story. The West Indies batting power houses, Gayle, Pollard and Smith will continue to be the players to watch out for in another likely run fest at the expense of an unimaginative New Zealand bowling side.
Chris Gayle and Keiron Pollard
Since a long time, the number one batsman for his side in the limited overs format, Chris Gayle has been in tremendous touch all of this year. After breaking records in the IPL, he made a comeback into the national side and immediately made his presence felt with a blistering 53 against a tight English bowling attack in the 2nd ODI. Saturday’s game is an indicator that he has already adapted himself to the change of conditions and is likely to continue his assault from where he left off during his unbeaten 85.
Gayle may have seemed devastating last evening, but the only batsman to score quicker than him was another reputed big hitter from the IPL, Keiron Pollard. Out of the 29 deliveries he faced for his 63 runs, he dispatched 10 to the ropes; five fours and five sixes. Like Gayle, he too remained unbeaten. These two together look unstoppable and will look to steal the game away from the opposition on Sunday.
With the Twenty20 World cup on the horizon, this is one of the final chances for the two sides to work on getting the right combinations. On paper, the West Indies look the clear favorites against an out of form Kiwi side that is further affected by injuries.