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March 22, 2007
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With New Zealand having qualified for the Super Eights, their final league game against Canada at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia assumes little significance, however the indications are that they will not take the fixture lightly.
Scott Styris has said that the prime concern in the New Zealand camp was maintaining their intensity, irrespective of the opposition and their standing in the tournament. Fresh from their 3-0 rout of Australia in the Chappell-Hadlee Series at home, New Zealand stumbled in their opening warm-up game against Bangladesh, losing by two wickets. They bounced back to beat England by six wickets, staving off early shivers, and trounced Kenya by 148 runs.
"We've been guilty in the past of taking teams lightly," Styris told NZPA. "Five, six, seven years ago it happened all the time in warm-up games whether it be against A teams or minnows at the World Cup. But it's happening less and less now, we talk about that issue a lot, particularly early in the tour."
Stephen Fleming, the captain, spoke of the top-order as an area of concern if they are asked to bat first. The top order wobbled after England struck with three quick wickets for 19 before Styris and Jacob Oram bailed the side out of trouble. They had no such problems against Kenya, posting 331 after being asked to bat first.
"A stronger attack would have created more problems, that's why we're quite nervous about batting first and will be in this whole tournament," Fleming said. "We have to work on ways to combat that and make sure you still post competitive scores."
New Zealand are expected to make a few changes, with fast bowler Shane Bond being rested and Ross Taylor out with a hamstring injury. The replacements are most likely to be Daryll Tuffey and Peter Fulton. Mark Gillespie, the fast bowler, is yet to make sufficient recovery from a viral infecton in his bowling arm and the management haven't sought a replacement yet. John Bracewell, the New Zealand coach, said that he had resumed bowling in the nets, taking anti-inflammatories to reduce the pain.
Though Canada are out of the tournament with two successive defeats, coach Andy Pick was pleased with the batting after posting scores of over 200 in both games. Pick is set to return to England to coach the Under-19 side.
"Hopefully we can carry on doing some of the good work we did against England," Pick said. "I'd like to get 200 again if we can, at least 200, and that will be three decent scores we've put on the board."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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