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Hapless West Indies look to topple unbeaten New Zealand
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Hapless West Indies look to topple unbeaten New Zealand

West Indies have followed a downward spiral since they stormed to victory by seven wickets in their opening game of the World Cup against Pakistan.

Now, the Caribbean side faces a tough challenge as they need to win all their remaining matches beginning with the first obstacle versus unstoppable New Zealand.

West Indies have been lacking regular contributions from their senior pros Chris Gayle and Andre Russell to aid them in posting match-winning totals.

While batting woes have, to an extent, been alleviated by the resurgence of left-handed batsmen Nicholas Pooran and Evin Lewis, the West Indies bowling attack has fizzled out of steam as the tournament has progressed.

The one-dimensional pace line-up and absence of a plan B in the event of the failure of the short-ball tactic has meant captain Jason Holder often finds himself constrained in the bowling options available at his disposal.

New Zealand, meanwhile, scripted a dramatic last over victory over South Africa that saw Kane Williamson calmly shepherd his team over the line.

The cool head of Williamson oozes stability into New Zealand's middle order, which is otherwise packed with explosive power hitters such as Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham.

Williamson's splendid match-winning century attracted the attention of many among the cricket fraternity including two-time World Cup winner Clive Lloyd, who advised the West Indies to learn from the Black Caps skipper.

"His (Williamson) innings to knock off South Africa was absolutely masterful, one of the finest I have ever seen in an ODI game. He is a fantastic reader of the game and knows how to adapt to what is going on around him.

"The West Indies would benefit from learning a thing or two from Williamson," Lloyd said.

Russell's absence a huge blow to the West Indies

Andre Russell is set to sit out of the important clash against New Zealand due to his lingering knee injury, as the news was confirmed by Holder on the eve of the game.

"We've still got a few niggles within the group. We're trying to manage niggles the best we possibly can.

"I think one guy who probably may be definitely out tomorrow is Russell. I don't think he's fit enough to go tomorrow. But everybody else should be good to go," said Holder.

Russell's absence leaves a gaping hole in the West Indies' middle order and he would most likely be replaced by spinner Ashley Nurse, further depleting their pace stocks.

All eyes on Guptill

The last time these two teams met in a World Cup, the contest was dominated by Martin Guptill who made the record for the highest individual score in cricket's showpiece event.

Although he hasn't quite clicked in this tournament, Guptill's marathon innings of 237 will still reign fresh in the mind of Holder as he captained his side four years ago too.

New Zealand's opening pair has been the weak link in their victories, but Guptill would be hoping to repeat the heroics of the quarter-final in Wellington.

Squads

West Indies: Jason Holder (c), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Tom Blundell (wk), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Jimmy Neesham