2019 ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP
With injuries injurious to Andre Russell, the West Indies are likely to rest. © Getty
The tide of dead rubbers has begun. The potential for this ten-team format to end a series of meaningless games was always the greatest danger to the success or otherwise of the tournament. To avoid this fate, it was necessary for the big boys to lose some games in the beginning. That did not happen and India, Australia, England and New Zealand will almost certainly be the first four to reach the semifinals. As such, many of the remaining games, such as when Blackcaps play in the West Indies at Old Trafford on Saturday (June 22), have little or nothing to their advantage.
For the West Indies, there is pride and professionalism to cling to, of course. They may qualify mathematically, but it would take a miracle of enormous proportions for this to happen and realistically they know they are out. The challenge for them will be to keep desire and commitment when thoughts can easily turn to the plan back home. On the other hand, New Zealand have a semifinal to plan and prepare, so there is likely to be a small shortage of players, especially due to the fierce competition within their team.
Tim Southee and Henry Nicholls, two players who were chosen for New Zealand's first eleven choices early in the tournament, were injured in warm-ups and could not force their way back since. By staying undefeated so far, New Zealand has not lost, but no one in the eleven can be complacent.
Most of the team has worked well and Kane Williamson, with an average of 225, is operating on a plane above. The only concerns are about Tom Latham, who could do with some races, and Trent Boult, who would like some more wickets. They also have not played Australia or England yet – and the game against India has been eliminated – so there will be more tests to be carried out than they have faced so far.
While things are beautiful in New Zealand's camp, things are more pessimistic in the West Indies. They were desperate in their last two games, losing to England and Bangladesh. These performances contrasted so much with the initial optimism of his defeat of Pakistan at Trent Bridge and then a good ride against Australia. This match, which they lost, but should have won, was a huge missed opportunity. Your campaign has not recovered.
In the defeats for England and Bangladesh, the West Indies put their bowling eggs in the basket labeled "Rhythm, rebound and aggression". Unfortunately, all of their eggs went into the basket, and when it did not work, they had nowhere to go. Some may see this playing with their strengths. In Andre Russell, Shannon Gabriel and Thomas Oshane, they certainly have genuine rhythm and genuine leap. Others may consider this tactic as one-dimensional. In light of the way England and Bangladesh lined up in the West Indies bowling alley, the latter view probably carries more weight.
The two teams did not face one-day cricket 18 months ago and when they faced the showdown, New Zealand won a home series with three zip. His last meeting before that was in the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup, a memorable match in which Martin Guptill scored a remarkable 237 was not. He helped New Zealand accumulate 393 and hurled the West Indies by 250. This is not usually more comprehensive.
When: Saturday, June 22, 2019. 1:30 PM local time
At where: Old Trafford, Manchester
What to expect: The weather is set to be mercifully dry for this game, although the sun may be visible again by its absence. The surface, different from that of the first two games, had a green coloration on Friday but is expected to be a typical Old Trafford surface; some pace, skip and a small movement for the players, but giving the scouts the opportunity to play their shots.
The Blackcaps might consider bringing Tim Southee to put some overs on the legs of the fast-bowler before the most important tests to come. If he goes back to the side, Matt Henry is probably the player to lose what would be difficult, since he has an average of 22.85 so far in this tournament.
Possible XI: Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Grandhomme Colin, Mitchell Santer, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry / Tim Southee, Trent Boult
Andre Russell basically played the last two games on one leg and qualifying for the semifinals a long shot, it is likely he will be rested. Kemar Roach and Ashley Nurse will come into contention to add variety to a bowling strike that has been very one-dimensional. Darren Bravo, who beat eight against Bangladesh, and Oshane Thomas may lose as a result.
Possible XI: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmeyer, Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Kemar Barata, Shannon Gabriel