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West Indies have long been at that level where mediocrity becomes so much of a routine that you lose track of how poor they have actually become. It has been more than four years since they have won an ODI series against Test-level opposition, apart from Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. That is 14 straight bilateral series. Recent performances and the current opposition give a faint glimmer of hope, though, that the woeful run could end.
West Indies tied a hard-fought series with Australia at home in March. They were expected to be beaten, but they fought. Another factor in their favour is that their opponents, New Zealand, are fellow laggards. They are ranked seventh, a point ahead of West Indies in the ICC one-day rankings, and a gulf separates the two and sixth-ranked Pakistan. Since December 2008, New Zealand have won only one bilateral ODI series against top Test-level opposition. They have even suffered a 0-4 rout to Bangladesh.
This is the best chance for Darren Sammy to record his first ODI series win over top opposition. All the talk during his captaincy has been about ‘team over individuals’, building for the future and encouraging youth. They need to start winning some as well.
It will be a tough initiation to captaincy for Kane Williamson, the youngest to lead New Zealand, and of whom much is expected for many years to come. At the very least, this short leadership stint, till Taylor comes back, can only build his character. And offer New Zealand a glimpse into the long-term future.
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