WELLINGTON (Reuters) - West Indies must capture the wicket of key batsman Ross Taylor early if they are to prevent New Zealand from clinching the test series when the third and final match begins at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Thursday, according to coach Ottis Gibson.
New Zealand hold a 1-0 lead in the series after an innings and 73-run victory in Wellington last week.
New Zealand's bowlers, particularly left-arm seamer Trent Boult, took the plaudits for the victory at the Basin Reserve, but Taylor's batting has given the attack defendable targets.
Taylor scored a career-best 217 not out in the drawn first test in Dunedin then backed it up with 129 in Wellington after being dropped on nought.
More notably, he shared productive middle order partnerships in Wellington, allowing BJ Watling to marshall the tail and push the hosts past 400, putting pressure on West Indies' batsmen in their innings.
"Ross has got a double-hundred and a hundred in two test matches ... and is in great form," Gibson said.
"We dropped Ross on nought and he scored 129. He's a quality player and he's not likely to give you two or three chances in an innings.
"When you look at the differences those are the differences at the moment."
Gibson was less than impressed with the second test, with his side succumbing inside three days, and forced them into additional training sessions before Hamilton.
The bowlers have struggled with their line and length, wasting their first use of the green New Zealand pitches, and Gibson was keen for them to pitch the ball up more and allow the ball to swing and seam.
"Our bowlers are probably a little quicker than theirs and we have bowled a bit short," Gibson said.
"But if it's not swinging you can't pitch it up to quality batsmen like Taylor.
"It's finding the right length. We find it sometimes three balls out of six. We have been inconsistent with everything we have done. As a bowling group we haven't stuck to plans for long enough."
West Indies captain Darren Sammy said after the Wellington loss that his team's composition was up in the air for Hamilton. He told reporters there on Wednesday that it was still not settled.
Off-spinner Sunil Narine, who captured 12 of his 15 career wickets against New Zealand, will come into the equation after Shane Shillingford was banned following biomechanical analysis of his bowling action.
The visitors preferred to shake off Shillingford's enforced absence and Gibson said he felt they were still capable of clinching a victory that would draw the series.
"We haven't played to our potential but I believe we can level the series," he said.
"We know the guys can deliver because they've done it before for us. It's just getting them to do it consistently.
"When you play away from home you expect it to be tough and we just have to man up and face up to the challenge that New Zealand presented to us."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ian Ransom)