Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Buoyed by their Twenty20 international series win against New Zealand last weekend in Lauderhill, Florida, the West Indies will today seek to make a winning start when they face the Kiwis yet again in the first of their five-match Digicel one-day international (ODI) series.
The match, which will be played at Sabina Park, beginning at 9:30 a.m., will see the West Indies looking to build on their 2-0 Twenty20 series success as they seek to lay a platform for the rest of the ODI series, which they hope to win and improve their world rankings.
The West Indies are ranked at eighth in the ICC ODI rankings and New Zealand seventh, and should they win the series would leapfrog the Black Caps, as the Kiwis are popularly called.
"It's important for us to get a winning start as although we won the Twenty20 series New Zealand are still a pretty good team, and if we don't execute right they can beat us," said West Indies captain Darren Sammy.
"We therefore need to put down our heads once more and focus on our individual game, as this is the only we are going to guarantee ourselves making the type of start we want."
The West Indies, who dropped fast bowler Fidel Edwards from the Twenty20 squad and called up Tino Best and André Russell for the first two one-dayers - the second of which will also be played at Sabina Park on Saturday - will be looking to opener Chris Gayle and off-spinner Sunil Narine to continue where they left off in the Twenty20s.
Gayle made an unbeaten 86 in the first match and 53 in the second to earn the Man-of-the-Series award, while the 24-year-old Narine, who was voted Most Valuable Player of this season's Indian Premier League (IPL), claimed a miserly four for 12 to take the Man-of-the-Match award in the second match.
The Trinidadian, whose 'doosra' remains one of his primary assets, also took three for 34 in the first match.
Potential match winners
Gayle apart, the batting will also need Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard - all potential match winners on their day - to come good as well.
As for the bowling, Ravi Rampaul and Sammy are expected to lead the attack, with Russell, who is returning from injury, and Tino Best also among the options.
New Zealand, on the other hand, will be without their regular captain and lead batsman Ross Taylor, who injured his shoulder in the Twenty20 series and will be out for at least two weeks. But in top-order batsman Martin Guptill and the big-hitting Jacob Oram they possess two players who are renowned game-changers.
They also have in their line-up young batting sensation Kyle Mills and IPL star Tim Southee.
"We know the West Indies is a fairly strong side and we know that we are a young side, but we still have the players who can get the job done," said New Zealand's stand-in captain, 21-year-old Kane Williamson.
"It was close to three months that we did not play together as a team heading into the Twenty20s and we were a bit match rusty. However, since then we have taken a look at where went wrong and come this ODI series will be looking to correct them."
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Tino Best, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, André Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Smith.
New Zealand: Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Andrew Ellis, Daniel Flynn, Tom Latham, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Tim Southee, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson (stand-in captain).