Captain McCullum's clinical eye on Hamilton

MARK GEENTY AT SAXTON OVAL
Last updated 05:03 05/01/2014

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Having bludgeoned their opponents in Queenstown, they killed them softly in Nelson.

Now, New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum is eyeing another clinical final cut in Hamilton on Wednesday after they went 2-1 up in the one-day international series with a dominant 58-run Duckworth-Lewis victory over the West Indies yesterday.

The skipper hailed "a thorough, professional performance" from his side at Saxton Oval's debut, as they racked up 285-6 then had the tourists struggling on 134-5 in the 34th over when the rain arrived in the fourth ODI.

Led by man of the match Martin Guptill's 81, after he struggled badly early on, and maintained by quickfire 40s from Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, the platform was set, even if it was a far cry from the raining sixes of Queenstown where Corey Anderson and Ryder ran amok.

"The wicket in Queenstown was as good a wicket as I've played on in New Zealand. That was one out of the box and that isn't the expected performance. That was one we'll all remember for a long time but we shouldn't expect it to happen every time," McCullum said.

"[Yesterday] I didn't think we really destroyed them at the end, we sort of killed them softly just through picking up the odd boundary and just smart batting.

"Ideally that's the blueprint, you get yourself in that position then you can really launch with your power hitters later. Then we might have got 320-330, but 280 was still a very good score."

In fact, 30 or 40 runs above par on a tricky surface, McCullum said, which had the home dressing room buzzing at the innings break.

McCullum revealed he nearly missed the match after straining a hamstring in chilly Queenstown, but he passed a fitness test yesterday morning and felt he'd be right for Hamilton. An unchanged side is likely as they look to replicate ODI series victories over South Africa and England this past year, although fast bowler Adam Milne will be considered after he was omitted yesterday with the pitch expected to be sluggish.

West Indies, meanwhile, look a broken team after they lost seamer Ravi Rampaul to a fractured thumb on match eve, leaving them with 12 fit players.

"They're obviously struggling and we've been there before, we know what it's like when you're coming towards the end of a long tour and things are going against you with injuries and performances. But we know they're a dangerous team and a proud team so it wouldn't surprise me if they turned in their best performance in the next game."

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson rued three dropped catches, all off Jason Holder, then two lazy run outs early in his side's chase. Rampaul became the seventh first-choice West Indies player to be sidelined, after allrounder Darren Sammy tore his hamstring in Queenstown.

"Looking at the way we fielded, New Zealand got 25-30 runs too many. I don't think it was a 280 pitch. Then to lose a wicket run out when you talk about being sensible for the first 20 overs was a tough blow," Gibson said.

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"There's seven guys here that are getting an opportunity that might not normally be getting an opportunity, and you'd have to say they're not taking that."

Legspinner Samuel Badree, allrounder Andre Russell and batsman Andre Fletcher are scheduled to arrive tomorrow to prepare for the two Twenty20 internationals and will also provide cover for Hamilton.

- Sunday Star Times

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