Kiwis eye damage control - Gayle identified as bane of Black Caps
NEW Zealand wicketkeeper/batsman BJ Watling said his team is looking to limit the damage done by West Indies opener Christopher Gayle for the remainder of the five-match Digicel One-Day International (ODI) series.
The 32-year-old Gayle, back into the regional set-up after a 15-month absence due to a prolonged squabble with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), has terrorised the New Zealand bowling attack with match-winning knocks all series.
As the teams prepared to depart Jamaica for St Kitts to play the remaining 50-over matches, Watling said the team is thinking of "finding ways to beat the West Indies" and emphasised how crucial it is to dismiss the majestic left-hander early.
"If we can take a couple of the wickets at the start, get Gayle out and then put them under a bit of pressure, I think we got a chance.
"Obviously, if we can start better and get a couple early fellows and get Gayle out it would be bonus. If we can take Gayle out of the equation and make the other players bat, I think we have a good chance of putting them under some good pressure," he said after the Kiwis' 55-run loss at Sabina Park in the second ODI on Saturday.
Gayle scored 85 not out and 53 in the two Twenty20 (T20) matches in Florida and followed up with an unbeaten 63 and 125 in the opening ODI contests as the West Indies recorded comfortable wins against the visitors.
Said Watling: "We've looked at things in the last game and in the Twenty20s and we worked on a few plans there, but he (Gayle) is playing really well. He's in some good nick and he's striking the ball (well). We've got to find a way of getting him out of this groove of such; run him out or something."
Two objects of discontent for the Black Caps in those four encounters have been the inability of their inexperienced batting line-up to put together big totals and the lack of incisiveness from the bowlers.
The 27-year-old Watling, who has scored back-to-back half-centuries in the ODIs so far, said he saw improvements in both areas during the match on Saturday.
"We've improved a bit and the boys (bowlers) finished off the innings well with drying up the boundaries at the end there. The bowlers should gain confidence from how they finished.
"It was an improved batting effort by the guys. We had (Martin) Guptill getting some runs and then Kane (Williamson), but I'm just disappointed we didn't get closer and make a real game of it," he said, while acknowledging his own good form.
West Indies middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels, who notched his third career ODI ton with a sumptuous, unbeaten 101 on Saturday, said his team is not about to lift its foot off the accelerator.
"We're not taking anything for granted. We would like to continue this lovely run. We would like to go to St Kitts and seal the deal with a win to take the series," he said.
Samuels, 31, made light of suggestions that the current New Zealand bowling attack is a weak one.
"It only takes one ball to get you out. They say they are rebuilding, but we went through that process as well and now we are gelling as a team and looking a very strong unit. I'm not underestimating their bowling attack and even in the very end they bowled some good yorkers," he said.
The third ODI will be played at Basseterre, St Kitts tomorrow.