Vettori praises fresh faces
It used to be Australian players who would begin their international careers with a string of victories before tasting defeat but now New Zealand's fresh faces are enjoying the same feeling. The captain Daniel Vettori said following his side's six-wicket triumph at the MCG that a winning culture was starting to develop thanks to their successes against West Indies last month and their 2-0 lead over Australia.
"It's really good for some of our young guys," Vettori said. "Martin Guptill and Neil Broom haven't ever lost a game in New Zealand colours. Those sorts of feelings are starting to swirl around the dressing room that we're starting to get a feel of what it's like to win. It's only been three in a row but there's some good confidence in the team."
Take out their no-result in Auckland and it's actually four in a row and in the past year, New Zealand have won 14 one-day internationals and lost four. It is an impressive record for a squad that is missing the injured allrounder Jacob Oram and the batsman Scott Styris.
Even more pleasing for Vettori was that two of their newer faces, Grant Elliott and Neil Broom, got New Zealand home at the MCG with a 50-run partnership from 44 balls. They reached their target of 226 with seven deliveries to spare and both men struck boundaries at important times when a few dot balls could have given Australia a real chance.
"They've probably got about 15, 16 games between them, but they looked so composed and so mature and led us to a comfortable victory in the end," Vettori said. "The big thing with Neil is to get him to play his natural game. When he starts thinking about things he probably clutters himself a little bit."
While it was New Zealand's less experienced players who got them home, Australia relied heavily on the older heads of Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey in a batting order that again was a little too fragile. It has been difficult for Australia to maintain their aura following the retirements of key players and Vettori said the changing nature of Australia's side was a bonus for his squad.
"For a lot of our younger guys they grew up watching a lot of the Australian players, guys that have recently retired," he said. "A lot of the guys we're playing now, some of our guys have played in A-teams and emerging players teams so they have a better understanding than just turning up and finding a guy that they've idolised for the last 15 years."
One such man is Ricky Ponting, who is resting, and his stand-in captain Clarke faces the challenge of sparking his team into a winning unit in Sydney on Sunday after five consecutive losses - one more and they will hand over the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. He will do so without Shaun Tait, who has been released from the squad to deal with a hamstring problem, although Clarke himself is likely to play after suffering a painful blow on the toe while compiling his 98.
He and Michael Hussey, who built a 133-run stand, both fell in the final five overs when Australia needed to build on their solid platform. Clarke conceded that their inability to lift their rate after a conservative start was a major factor in posting a total that was too small.
"It always makes the job harder when you lose a couple of wickets early," Clarke said. "I guess with the batting I think we were probably 20 or 30 short and I take responsibility for that. If I'd turned my innings into 130 it's a different game."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo