Windies target worn-out NZ attack
Wellington: The West Indies are hoping to take advantage of an exhausted New Zealand attack in the second Test starting Wednesday after the home side`s bowlers sent down more than 200 overs without a break in the series opener.
The visitors -- helped by wet weather -- battled to a draw in the first Test in Dunedin on Saturday after being forced to follow-on 396 runs behind but Darren Bravo mounted a stubborn rearguard action, top-scoring in West Indies` second innings with 218.
New Zealand, who looked certain to wrap up victory on the final day, were left frustrated after rain washed out the final session of play, leaving them an agonising 33 runs short of their first win for more than a year.
Skipper Brendon McCullum must ponder how to manage his strike force in the second Test in Wellington while West Indies skipper Darren Sammy believes his team could benefit from the New Zealand bowlers` fatigue.
"Their bowlers toiled and that`s a lot of yards in the legs," Sammy said. "I guess my bowlers will be much fresher than their bowlers so hopefully we can go into the second Test and they`ll be a bit tired and we will be a fresher team."
The groundsman at the Basin Reserve, Brett Sipthorpe, has produced a wicket with plenty of grass on it, meaning it is likely to reward the pacemen.
"This one will be quite similar to 2009," he said referring to the last time New Zealand played a pre-Christmas Test in Wellington.
"Early season you`ve got great grass coverage to work with and your moistures are good."
In the Test four years ago, New Zealand sent Pakistan in to bat and dismissed them for 264 before being bundled out for 99 as the tourists went on to win by 141 runs.
New Zealand are desperate to snap their long winless sequence and despite a tired attack, coach Mike Hesson said the Black Caps will soon return to winning ways.
"We`re getting ourselves into position to win Tests. Twenty more minutes and we`d have had a Test win," he said, referring to the first Test.
"I think the team`s starting to turn a corner in terms of our method and how we play and, sure, we`d love the wins."
New Zealand were on course for victory in Dunedin after their mammoth first innings 609 for nine declared but their bowlers began to tire as Bravo and Sammy, with 80, dug deep in the tourists` second innings.
Despite the brave resistance from the West Indies, it was ultimately the weather that cost New Zealand victory.
The Black Caps have taken the same 13 players to Wellington, with Kane Williamson likely to play in place of Aaron Redmond at number three. Williamson missed the opening match of the three-Test series to give his broken thumb more time to heal.
His ability to spin the ball could mean specialist spinner Ish Sodhi misses out if New Zealand decide to play seamer Doug Bracewell to take advantage of the green wicket and expected strong northerly wind.
The West Indies have concerns over the fitness of Sammy, who withdrew from the attack in the New Zealand first innings with a leg muscle injury.
With little depth in their pace line-up, Sammy indicated the tourists could play two spinners, with Sunil Narine possibly joining Shane Shillingford.
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