BY Tony Cozier | January 9, 2009
THE West Indies will turn to the ever reliable Shivnarine Chanderpaul in an effort to solve their chronic opening partnership problem in the fourth ODI against New Zealand at Eden Park here tomorrow (tonight east Caribbean time).
“He’s our best batsman so he had better open and be done with it,” captain Chris Gayle said, bluntly, following the seven wickets loss in the third ODI in Wellington on Wednesday.
Gayle has carried the left-handed Sewnarine Chattergoon as his opening partner in both Tests and the first two ODIs. Chattergoon’s highest score is 25, their best start 66 in the first Test in Dunedin.
Gayle’s other partners have been Chanderpaul in the first 20/20 (out for 6), Ramnaresh Sarwan in the second 20/20 (53 after Gayle was out for 1) and Xavier Marshall on Wednesday (out third ball for 0).
The adaptable Chanderpaul has batted in every position from No.1 to No.8 in his 239 ODIs. Going in first, he averages 43.27 with six of his nine hundreds, among them his highest, 150 against South Africa at East London in 1999.
He has, once again, been the outstanding batsman on the present tour and, after missing the first two ODIS with a sore left-hand, the legacy of too many long innings, returned on Wednesday to topscore with 45 in a dismal all-out 128 off 41,4 overs.
Gayle may be the coolest cat in all cricket – even he himself reckons so – but he was clearly upset with the batting meltdown in Wellington.
“The batting conditions weren’t difficult,” he said. “There were no demons in the wicket. We had an opportunity to go out there and put some runs on the board but we played terrible cricket.”
The West Indies were 74 for eight at one stage and 101 for nine when Chanderpaul was finally prised out before the last pair, Nikita Miller, with 25 not out, and Fidel Edwards, 13, added 27 with sensible batting.
Gayle made 18, Chanderpaul 45 and the others above Miller and Edwards 0, 5, 8, 1, 1, 4, 1. The plain truth is that this is a three-man batting team and, with Shaun Findlay at No.5 and Denesh Ramdin at No.6, as weak a West Indies batting line-up as there has been.
Brendan Nash’s batting is not ideally suited to the limited-overs game but he is an experienced cricketer, capable of a few medium-pace overs and sharp in the field. He was not in the final eleven in Wellington but is sure to be for the last two matches, here and in Napier on Tuesday.
While Chanderpaul might solve the problem at the top, there is the matter of Daniel Vettori to be dealt with later in the innings.
The New Zealand captain has bamboozled batsmen short of international standard in all the one-day matches. His figures in the two 20/20s and three ODIs are 32-0-109-11, an average per wicket of 9.9 and economy rate of 3.4. They were 10-3-20-4 in Wellington.
Gayle is at a loss to understand why it should be so.
“He has been playing for years,” he said. “We’ve seen him in the Test matches and in the last couple of one-dayers so there’s no excuse for batters saying Vettori is giving them problems. It’s time to come up with some formula and game-plan.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand have introduced Martin Guptill, the 22-year-old Auckland batsman, to their squad for the last two ODIs. Jamie How is dropped and injury-prone all-rounder Jacob Oram, who limped off the field with an Achilles tendon injury after bowling two overs in Wellington, is also out.
New Zealand 12: Daniel Vettori (captain), Neil Broom, Grant Elliott, Daniel Flynn, Mark Gillespie, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jeetan Patel, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee and Ross Taylor.
Source: Stabroek News