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WI vs NZ, T20 World Cup 2024: Bruised New Zealand takes on high-flying West Indies in key Group C clash

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The early stages of the T20 World Cup have revealed a stark contrast in fortunes within Group C. Co-host West Indies is riding high after a commanding 134-run victory over Uganda, the second-largest margin of victory by runs in the tournament’s history. Conversely, New Zealand sits at the bottom of the group after collapsing for 75 in pursuit of Afghanistan’s 160.

Afghanistan leads Group C with a Net Run Rate (NRR) of +5.225, while the West Indies is second, having secured two wins out of two. New Zealand, on the other hand, teeters on the brink of an early exit.

As the teams prepare for their Wednesday evening clash at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad, the West Indies is expected to stick with its winning XI. New Zealand, despite its recent setback, might also retain the same lineup, aiming to avoid a reactionary shake-up after one poor performance.

This match will mark the first T20 World Cup fixture at the Brian Lara Stadium, a venue built in 2017. Known for its batter-friendly conditions, the stadium boasts an average first innings score of 185. England posted the second-highest T20I total by a Test-playing nation here last December, scoring 267/3.

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Having dealt with the low and slow pitches at Providence, Guyana, both teams will welcome the more favourable conditions at the Brian Lara Stadium. This is particularly good news for New Zealand’s Kane Williamson and Devon Conway, who have not seen much game time recently. Although both players excel against spin, they will face a formidable challenge in left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein. Hosein, who achieved a career-best 5-11 against Uganda, will be a key threat with his ability to turn the ball away from Williamson.

New Zealand’s spin attack, led by Mitchell Santner, with support from left-arm spinner Rachin Ravindra and off-spinner Glenn Phillips, adds flexibility. They will be wary of West Indies’ power-hitters, including Andre Russell, as they look to click up a gear ahead of the Super Eights.

Adding to New Zealand’s challenges is the fact that the T20 World Cup marks the first time its full-strength squad has played together since the home series in February. In April, a second-string team toured Pakistan for a five-match T20I series, while key players such as Conway and Finn Allen are just returning from injury layoffs.

Williamson knows all too well that international tournament winners always find a way. It is unarguably the key to glory. He and his players need to shrug off the cobwebs – and fast.

Meanwhile, the weather forecast for Wednesday looks promising after a typical Trinidad day on match eve, with the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds.

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