Considering the large Caribbean population in Florida, this weekend\'s T20Is in Lauderhill are expected to draw bigger crowds than in 2010.
Two back-to-back Twenty20 internationals in the USA ahead of the full series of the Caribbean don't quite seem to fit, but that is what New Zealand and West Indies will play out in the foreign environs of the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground in Lauderhill, Florida. The only comparison that could be drawn between Saturday and Sunday's Twenty20s that the tour ahead is the weather and the fact that the pitches at the venue are known to be low and slow, much like in the certain West Indian grounds. Apart from that, there is little for either team to gain from playing in Florida, apart from some shopping and sightseeing.
For just the second time, America will host international cricket, a game yet to fine widespread appreciation outside of expatriate circles. The last time Twenty20s were held at this venue, in May 2010, the matches were dull, low-scoring affairs with few boundaries. In the first, New Zealand made just 120 but defended it comfortably against Sri Lanka. In the second, Daniel Vettori's side was skittled for 81. Needless to say, the fans weren't treated to many big hits – the common aspect cricket shares with baseball, and one of the big draws of the game as seen by those who run cricket in the America.
Considering the Caribbean population in Florida, the presence of a strong West Indies team offers hope of bigger crowds than in 2010. Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo are international crowd-pullers and Darren Sammy has put smiles on fans' faces across the world, so there is an air of expectancy as to the kind of support that shows up at a ground with small boundaries. Should the pitch offer some support to the batsman – though it is unlikely, given reports from Lauderhill – then the fans could be in for some cheering and swaying to Calypso music from Gayle and Co.
Personnel-wise, West Indies aren't likely to make any chances to the XI that lost to England in a one-off Twenty20 last week, with the exception of perhaps swapping a quick bowler for a spinner considering the nature of the pitch in Lauderhill. The most likely change is to drop Fidel Edwards – who conceded 33 without a wicket at Nottingham – for the uncapped legspinner Samuel Badree. Badree, 31, has a domestic Twenty20 economy rate of just 4.42 from 41 matches, and most recently had a successful Caribbean T20 in which he took eight wickets in six matches at 11.87 and going for just 4.31 an over.
New Zealand's last international Twenty20 outing came at home against South Africa in February, but the allrounder Jacob Oram had brushed off talk of any rustiness in the squad. New Zealand's bowling unit trained for a week in Australia before flying out to Florida, and Oram was confident of their fitness and enthusiasm.
Of the current squad, only three players played in the recent IPL – Ross Taylor, Doug Bracewell and Nathan McCullum. New Zealand's domestic Twenty20 competition concluded in January, so most of the squad hasn't been playing the format. Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill will be reunited at the top of the line-up, followed by the wicketkeeper BJ Watling in the absence of Brendon McCullum. Taylor and Kane Williamson will carry the middle order, with two of Dean Brownlie, Andrew Ellis and Daniel Flynn likely to follow.
New Zealand's bowling should feature two spinners in Nathan McCullum and left-armer Ronnie Hira, who was blooded during the South Africa series. Williamson can also be called on to bowl some slow stuff, leaving Bracewell and Tim Southee was the likely fast bowlers. Ellis, an allrounder, will also be relied on.
West Indies: 1 Dwayne Smith, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Lendl Simmons, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Fidel Edwards/Samuel Badree.
New Zealand: 1 Rob Nicol, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 BJ Watling (wk), 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Ross Taylor (capt), 6 Dean Brownlie, 7 Andrew Ellis, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Ronnie Hira.