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West Indies must guard against rotten habits and the culture of carelessness in NZ ODI's

image-l6xukmiaWest Indies will be eager to bounce back after the 2-1 defeat in the T20I series

One of the most recent ODI's that the Windies played against New Zealand was during the 2019 Men's World Cup. 

An emphatic contest, the twenty ninth match of the sport's showstopping event presented a nail-biter that nearly went down the final over; Carlos Brathwaite's stoic- as also maiden- ODI hundred all but taking down New Zealand in a one man assault waged against eleven.

Alas, that was to be the last that one saw the Windies show some spirited effort against a team that has so often and so humiliatingly defeated them. Truth be told, barring the team's victory in the third and final T20I, which was just days ago, the kind of cricket the Windies have time and again demonstrated against a worthy opponent has been worthless.

In the subsequent white-ball contests, Kane Williamson's men have simply made lightwork of teams led, first by Pollard (November, 2020) and later, Pooran (August, 2022).

So utterly dominant have New Zealand been against the Windies that the margin of victories, such as that of 72 runs (2nd T20I, Mount Maunganui, November 2020) and by 90 runs (2nd T20I, Jamaica, August 2022) have further demonstrated Windies' inherent weakness in the game's shortest format.

This, mind you, has been the format where the team under Sammy captured two world titles, seeming more like the West Indies as known once before the casual, careless attitudes changed into a Windies team we see today.

Though luckily, as one might note, what the Windies now face is an ODI series with the abomination of yet another soul-crushing T20 defeat hopefully behind them. 

It is, at the very least, a format where the team has talents of the class and repute of Shai Hope, easily the most bankable name in the squad, and someone with no fewer than 3 ODI centuries against his name this year.

West Indies have shown the hunger in recent years

image-l6xulp1xWindies have been inconsistent with their results for the past few years

Moreover, Sharmah Brooks, easily the most elegant find of the team in the recent period and Kyle Mayers, one of the most captivating talents around, seem in fine knick. Having recently struck their respective maiden ODI centuries, the Windies top order seems anything but a house of cards.

Add the rising Brandon King's name to the troika and you suddenly have a batting unit that cannot be crushed akin to a bug unless it self capitulates.

However, besides Hope and Brooks' strong character and resilience the team also boasts of the very element that today's obsessed fans crave: firepower.

And that is where Nicholas Pooran, who's endured a horrible run in ODI's this year steps in. And guess what, he must, if the West Indies are to put forth challenging totals and back up the top order with some spine from the lower middle order.

That's also an area where someone like Jason Holder, whose comeback in white-ball cricket is anything but impressive, becomes critical. 

The former West Indies captain's experience and redoubtable talent warrants strong performances, none of which we saw in the recently-completed T20 internationals.

There's some talk regarding the last minute inclusion of Jermaine Blackwood, the team's Test vice-captain. And it's not hard to understand why.

The batsman often considered lightly courtesy nicknames such as 'Bottle rocket' or 'pocket-sized dynamo' beckons more respect than given; his classy century against England earlier this year with his captain Kraigg Brathwaite not only upheld West Indian resistance but showed a batsman who seemed remarkably mature.

Interestingly, Blackwood, fearless as ever, also struck a memorable century in New Zealand back in 2020.

The 104 off just 141 during the First Test, Seddon Park, 2020 highlighted a batsman of resolve and character, the archetypal traits the Windies so desperately need in their batsmen rather than being this band of careless hitters who lust after mindless heaves as seen over the years.

Bowling could be an headache for the Men in Maroon

image-l6xuocfvAkeal Hosein has been the top bowler for the Windies in limited over contests

All of that put aside, the West Indies' stock of bowling in limited overs cricket seems a vastly improved lot with the added presence of Akeal Hosein. The Trinidadian has picked 25 of his 39 ODI wickets this year and besides being a thinking slow left arm orthodox talent is a very capable hitter.

One can't imagine how despite his fearless 60 against Pakistan, in the final ODI at Multan of the 3-match series, the team still managed to hold onto a defeat. When Hosein, largely recognized for his spin talent, succeeded in waging a one-man show, his colleagues watched in awe from the dugout.

Moreover, he took just thirty seven deliveries to score his maiden ODI fifty, just the kind of effort Pooran would need in this series against Williamson's army.

With Keacy Carty, the first international for West Indies from Sint Maarten and the likes of Alzarri Joseph, who famously struck an 86 at Hamilton, 2020, and Jayden Seales, the Windies seem an interesting and competitive side.

Yet, they are, unless you forgot, the very team habitual of conceding one extra too many with a regularity that is concerning at so many levels. Is it something the bowling coaches have worked on, is it an area that coach Simmons has warned the side clearly against- we don't know.

New Zealand will look to seal another series

image-l6xuqfu9New Zealand have the opportunity to seal another series to their name

Here's what's known. In the recent 3-match T20I series, the Windies gave away 23 extra runs, which is an average of eight a game. If that's not something you'd deem criminal especially considering the T20 format, then what would you? 

There is no way that the West Indies will be allowed a free run against a team that has both experience and flair in the likes of Guptill, Williamson, Allen, Conway and Latham.

This isn't some backyard cricket team made of school-bunking stowayas; this is a New Zealand that gets under the skin of its opponents and fights fire with fire whilst upholding the dignity of the sport.

Furthermore, that Ferguson, clearly among the best fast bowlers today, will be tearing apart the Windies alongside Boult and Southee, 359 ODI wickets between them, is a possibility. 

But what's also a possibility is another Shai Hope-special saving the day for the West Indies, the Barbadian is clearly on song with centuries each against India, Pakistan and The Netherlands.

Add to that the attractive chance of Holder and Blackwood rising to the occasion and we have ahead of us some evenly-fought contests where regardless of who wins, what's certain is that the fans are set for one heck of a ride.

But let it be put this way, unpredictable and carelessness, habits that have proved to be the bane of West Indians, will never keep them in good stead.

Is it something that they can change this time around? We shall find out soon.

Also Read: Devon Conway shocked at getting an opportunity to open against WI