Black Caps opt for pace over spin in Barbados

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 08:04 26/06/2014
Neil Wagner
Reuters
BACK IN BLACK: Quick bowler Neil Wagner will be in the New Zealand side for the third test against the West Indies.

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New Zealand have opted for pace over spin in the deciding third cricket test against the West Indies in Barbados, starting tomorrow (NZT).

Left-arm seamer Neil Wagner replaces legspinner Ish Sodhi in the only change to the XI that suffered a 10-wicket loss in the second test last week.

Offspinner Mark Craig was the second spin option heading into the series but after snaring eight wickets on debut in the first test win, he's been preferred over the slightly more experienced Sodhi for the decider at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.

On the back of two tons in his first three tests, allrounder Jimmy Neesham retains the No 6 role ahead of Corey Anderson.

The pitch presented bare and dry, but captain Brendon McCullum thought there would be more pace in it than the previous two tests.

''It looks like it's pretty good batting surface with some bounce and it should have some decent carry even though there's not a lot of grass,'' McCullum said today.

''Hopefully it holds throughout the game and should be able to aid the fast bowlers.''

McCullum would wait to see what overhead conditions presented on the first morning before making a call on what he'd do if he won the toss.

''Either way there looks a little bit in it for the bowlers but also it looks like the kind of surface that if you get in on, because it's got good pace bounce and the outfield is fast, you can score some runs as well.''

The key would again be posting a first innings score of more than 400.

''We've batted really well over the last 12-18 months and posted those scores in excess of 400, which lead to wins or draws. We know that's a key stat for us so we need to try and execute that again.''

At 1-1, New Zealand have a chance to repeat their only Caribbean series victory of 2002, a team that included batting coach Craig McMillan and bowling coach Shane Bond.

''We have a real chance of achieving something special, a series win here would be something we'd all hold dearly for the rest of our lives,'' McCullum said.

The match starts at 2am tomorrow (NZT).

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