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World Cup 2011

New Zealand seek confidence boost against India

Siddarth Ravindran in Chennai

February 15, 2011

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A

John Wright will be relieved after his first game as New Zealand coach, New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Twenty20, Auckland, December 26, 2010
John Wright is hoping the fact he has taken over as New Zealand coach only recently will give him a bit of a honeymoon period © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Scott Styris | Ross Taylor | John Wright
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: New Zealand

Two months ago, New Zealand sank to a nine-wicket defeat at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai that completed a 0-5 one-day series loss to an India team that was without six first-choice players. That result extended a losing sequence to 11 matches, and prompted a shake-up which included John Wright's installation as coach. New Zealand are now back at the MA Chidambaram for another crack at a near full-strength Indian team.

In his pre-match press conference, John Wright was very measured, taking his time to choose the exact words he wanted for his answers. He acknowledged that a good performance against India would be hugely encouraging ahead of the World Cup.

"India have played very well against New Zealand. We know that if we are to compete with India we have to play some really good cricket; this is a much bigger game for us [than the first warm-up game], because we were playing against Ireland, so for us this is a huge opportunity," he said. "If we can perform well, it will be a great boost for our confidence. We'd be delighted to meet them [India] in a non-friendly game later in the tournament."

New Zealand have lost both the Tests and one-dayers in a home series against Pakistan since Wright took over after public clamour for his appointment, and he said the team's fortunes won't change overnight. "From a technical point of view, changes at this level take a long time," he said. "So I've just got to help the boys work on their self-belief."

He also thought there were some positives in taking over so close to the World Cup. "Sometimes it's good to come in when you are new, a fresh face and you get a little bit of a honeymoon period not only with the public, but sometimes with the players."

Wright barely had to reflect on his current team during a 25-minute interaction when he was inundated with questions on his five-year spell as India coach that ended in 2005, whether he would consider becoming India coach sometime in the future, the run to the 2003 final, whether India had the maturity to deal with the oversized public expectations in the World Cup, and so on.

He himself "wasn't reading too much into" his time in India and whether it would assist New Zealand's preparations. "It's helpful in some respects; particularly knowing conditions, perhaps, gives me a little bit of a background," he said. "That's only a small thing to be honest, I think the main role is helping the players play better cricket."

One of the challenges for New Zealand on Wednesday would be taming the Indian batting, which is filled with potential match-winners. Scott Styris felt the key would be to keep attacking the batsmen, even if the runs were flowing. "The Indian top six is a very good top six," he said. "You can't get flustered if they do come after you. As soon as you sit back and allow them to dictate terms you have lost the battle. If you continually put pressure on them, quite often at home, especially with a lot of passionate fans around, that can work in your favour."

India won their previous warm-up match, against Australia thanks to their spinners, and the Chennai track had plenty of assistance for the slow bowlers in the last game here. Ross Taylor, the vice-captain, thought the India game would indicate where New Zealand stand. "Spin is going to be a big part of this World Cup," Taylor said. "The way we bowl spin, and the way we play spin is going to be a big part of how successful we will be as a team. Playing against India will be a good test of where we are as a team."

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Anil on (February 17, 2011, 3:00 GMT)

Many felt here a NZ win or they are gonna be black horses. But I mentioned before the game they are not anywhere in International standard. And they once again proved and cemented it. I'm afraid they gonna be the weakest compaigners (including all 14 teams) this time around.

Posted by Cricket on (February 16, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

Sachin has BOOST - Boost is the secret of sachin's energy.....

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 16, 2011, 7:15 GMT)

I am a new zealand cricket supporter, and i have no pretensions that india are clear favourites in this game. However, if you look at the potential the NZ lineup has, if every single person strikes their best (which I know they can) we do have a very good chance and coming out of this game the victor. But what are the chances....

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 16, 2011, 6:42 GMT)

New Zealand always underrated side but dont forget they appeared 5 times in WCup Semi final line up on 9 occassion but their poor reputation in sub continent wicket is mattter of concern for them

Posted by rizwan on (February 16, 2011, 3:13 GMT)

well im hoping for india's win

Posted by Ruwan on (February 16, 2011, 3:08 GMT)

I think India is bigger than the game now.... Before, Indian cricket had fans and lovers.. Now the market owns the game... fans and lovers follow what market wants them to follow. The market sells the game at a cheap rate to a bigger audience. Even they have supplements too such as IPL for people who don't have time for cricket, who really don't love cricket. India have a bigger capital than any other. So they want cricket being surrounded by India than India being surrounded by cricket.... That is why the other Warm-up games have been treated less when you should have treated all games equally if you really want to expand the game of cricket. Cheers

Posted by Ananth on (February 16, 2011, 2:43 GMT)

The Kiwi Bowling is way too weak to make any impact on a DECENT batting side. The pacers do not have the pace or the skills nor the variety to trouble top flight batsmen. But they have good wicket-to-Wicket bowlers operating in the middle overs and flashy batsmen in their top order. If they bat first and if, that is a big if, one of their top 4 makes a big score on a good day, they will be in with a chance as their fielding is top class and bowling disciplined. The best possible Kiwi X1 would read as below: Mccullum, Ryder, Guptill, Taylor, Styris, Franklin, Oram, Vettori, N Mccullum, Mills and Southee. This line-up as all Kiwi teams, bats deep, has plenty of players who can both bat and bowl and is a traditional Kiwi side which plays to their strengths. They have to find their self belief, particularly the batting group, as in the sub continent nothing wins games as big scores irrespective of the format. I would back NZ to finish third & with a good day, can even make the semis.

Posted by wayne on (February 16, 2011, 2:25 GMT)

Gosh, I wouldn't be as quick to write off NZ's chances as some other commentors here. They have a good ODI side who traditionally punch above their weight in the big tournaments, and while they haven't been in great form recently, they still have batting talent like Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram and Kane Williamson. Plus they have sloggers in the McCullums, Vettori's no slouch with the bat either. Southee, Bennett, Mills, Natham McCullum, alongside Vettori (currently #1 ODI bowler), Styris, and Oram isn't a bad attack - maybe not the best, but they're solid. Throw in the usual dash of luck & unknowns that are a natural part of the shorter forms of the game, and it's conceivable that they could beat India. And if they do, they'll do it with grace, humility, and in the right spirit of the game. Go Kiwis!

Posted by Anil on (February 16, 2011, 0:48 GMT)

Dreamers can dream a NZ win only just before the match starts. NZ did well in past WC's coz they have some quality players that time around. But now the setups are totally changed and an exact equation now has-" bunch of below par cricketers". To be honestly their five-six players are not even competent for first class level. I'm sure and sorry for John Wright's plight in very near future.

Posted by Sanjiv on (February 16, 2011, 0:20 GMT)

As an Indian supporter, I think our team is not super human. They have weaknesses. But they are gelling as a team where one person kinda picks up the slack for the other. That is what is different about our team of 2011. It is a nice feeling. And lots of kids in India are therefore very excited for their team. I am not anti-NZ or any other team who plays against us. I am just pro-India. Go India!

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