KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) – Desperate New Zealand have placed a large bounty on the head of in-form West Indies opener Chris Gayle.
They believe getting the big-hitting left-hander cheaply will be the key to breaking their winless run against the Caribbean side.
“We firmly believe that if we get (Gayle) early we’ve got a very good chance of running through the rest of them and getting a score that we can chase down,” seamer Tim Southee said.
“There’s a few of their guys that haven’t actually had a lot of batting, so if we can get a couple of early wickets then I’m sure we can make the most of that.”
Gayle has blasted a century and three half-centuries in his four innings against the Black Caps, and has been at the centre of the Windies domination.
He stroked an unbeaten 85 and 53 in the two Twenty20 Internationals in Florida last weekend, which the Windies won easily, and hit an unbeaten 63 in the first One-Day International on Thursday that the hosts won by nine wickets.
On Saturday, he carved out his 20th one-day century with a masterful 125 as West Indies took a 2-0 lead in the five match series with a 55-run verdict.
“The first 10 balls we bowl to him are crucial. He tends to have a look and sort of set himself. He’s a little bit vulnerable early doors, and we just need to come up with a plan now to do it,” said the 23-year-old right-armer.
“If we can work on the first couple of overs to him and stick to the plans a bit more, then hopefully we can put some pressure on him.”
He continued: “He’s obviously in some fine form. He’s a serious player and can destroy any attack on his day. He’s only human so it’s not like we don’t think we can get him out.
“He’s scored the majority of their runs and he’s been a massive influence in their success so far.”
New Zealand travelled to St Kitts yesterday for the final three games of the series, knowing that another loss in Wednesday’s third match at Warner Park will hand West Indies the series.
Southee said despite Saturday’s defeat, there were signs that the tourists were coming into their own. He said they were still confident of winning the last three matches and taking the series.
“The batting was an improvement. It’s just now we need a couple of guys that get in, to go on and get big scores,” he noted.
“We’ve still got a series to win and we firmly believe we can do that. We’ve got three games left and it’s going to take a massive effort.”