ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

NZ v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup 2011, Ahmedabad

New Zealand eyes on Ray Price

Nagraj Gollapudi in Ahmedabad

March 2, 2011

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Ray Price kept Australia in check during his first spell, Australia v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup 2011, Ahmedabad, February 21, 2011
Ray Price: A marked man for Friday © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Ray Price | Daniel Vettori
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup

Ray Price knows he is a marked man in a must-win encounter between Zimbabwe and New Zealand on Friday. Daniel Vettori's men will play him cautiously. Zimbabwe will rely on him to get the breakthroughs early on. Luckily for him, Price is not the one to get excited or easily bogged down. His enthusiasm in the field is infectious. He expects a lot out of himself and works hard at his job. It will be hard to ignore him.

"He does a good job at the top of the order. We've got to be ready for it," Daniel Vettori, New Zealand's captain, said of Price. In the absence of good fast bowlers, Zimbabwe had found a way out, operating their spinners for majority of the innings. Against Australia, Zimbabwe's spinners bowled 39 overs. After 10 overs the World Champions were stationed on 28 for 0; Price was the main hurdle and his tally of 6-0-18-0 in the first two Powerplays played an influential part in Australia failing to stamp their authority straightaway.

A few days later, Price exposed Canada's ineptness at playing quality spin, bowling seven overs on the trot - a match-winning spell (7-4-12-3) that included top-order scalps. After two matches Price had established himself as a dangerman, only behind the ever-dangerous Shahid Afridi.

Considering the fact that New Zealand batsmen have been vulnerable against spin in the sub-continent - as witnessed in the series whitewashes inflicted on them by Bangladesh and India last year - Zimbabwe are bound to try and exercise control through their spinners. In the last year teams have bowled at least 20 overs of spin in a game on average, but Zimbabwe have been an exception: in 2010 Zimbabwe's fast men bowled about 15 overs on average in a match, with the rest being spin.

It was not a surprise then to see John Wright ask specifically for left-arm finger spinners as net bowlers during the optional training session meant just for the batsmen. "The fact that we have not played them for a long time is probably a little bit of disadvantage for us because we have not seen their bowlers. But what we have seen of them in the last two games we are pretty sure of what we will come up against," Vettori said.

Price was a bit cautious about drumming up Zimbabwe's chances, but pointed out that the priority would be to try arrest the New Zealand top order from starting in dominating fashion. "I am always itching to bowl, it doesn't matter if it is the start or the end. It is always fantastic to bowl. It would be a good challenge for me because Brendon McCullum hits the ball a long way. We saw in the IPL he made one of the fastest hundreds. They have got some good players, so it is going to be very difficult for me."

Today New Zealand were in a better frame of mind compared to last week when they were distracted by the earthquake in Christchurch. Wright was a happy man with the return of Dayle Shackel (physiotherapist) and Bryan Stronach (trainer), who had rushed home to attend their affected families.

The teams have played two matches apiece with similar results: one win and one loss. Given the format, a team could stand to qualify for the knockouts even if it has two wins; that has added spice to this contest. "It is an important game for us. On where we want to go in the tournament it is a must-win for us. Zimbabwe are actually playing pretty well so it is going to be a difficult game," Vettori said. He added the batsmen were learning quickly to adapt to the variety of attacks, one of the challenges only a tournament like the World Cup offered. "Australia attacked us with pace and we are going to see a lot of spin in this game. So it is an exciting challenge for us, but one we have to win."

Price said Zimbabwe were more hungry for a second win in a row, after their comprehensive victory against Canada on Monday. But he is not getting carried away. "It is very important for us (win). But you try not to think too much of that because in cricket if you think about the results then you forget about what you are supposed to do and control the areas you are supposed to bowl at," Don't be fooled, New Zealand. Price will come at you.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 17 
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Posted by Dennis on (March 4, 2011, 0:52 GMT)

NZ have NEVER been beaten by an Associate team at a WC .Hopefully Williamson is bought in as well as Oram and Mills - long batting line up , Its time for Mc Cullum ,Ryder ,Talor to step up .

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 3, 2011, 18:18 GMT)

Ireland beat England,so anything is possible.Zim we can beat New Zealand.The trick is to go after my sazita Hamish Bennet and play Dani Vettori cautiuosly.Anyway Coventry has disappointed pakuopener so will it not be a wise move to move him to 3rd or drop him for Terence Duffin.Come on lads,we can destroy NZ.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 3, 2011, 12:45 GMT)

my team...........taylor,guptill,n.mccullum,willaiamson,styris,ryder,b.mccullum,vettori,southee,mills,bennet..................batting ryder at 4 would allow him to play an innins just like pollard did the other day.....and as for innins build up....williamson,n.mccullum and styris would be able to do that....i predict a nz win...

Posted by Girik on (March 3, 2011, 12:00 GMT)

It will depend on the pitch. If it is a turning pitch and Zimbabwe bat first, Zimbabwe should be favourites to win. In all other situations NZ have more of a chance of winning but Zimbabwe can still cause an upset.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 3, 2011, 10:12 GMT)

Zim win on the cards! Drop Chigumbura, bring in duffin,

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 3, 2011, 9:14 GMT)

Al th way for zim...hopin taylor wil and is yet to rise..price an mpofu wil b the men to watch.....

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 3, 2011, 9:05 GMT)

@ ponting_will_rise u are my friend are dead on.drop chigumbura and the batting will hold its own.pitty alister is busy commentating to focus on his real job

Posted by Bryton on (March 3, 2011, 8:07 GMT)

A lot will depend on how McCullum, Guptil and Ryder (and Taylor) play spin. (Judging from their previous tour of the sub continent, not too well). As correctly highlighted by ponting_will_rise, a lot also depends on how Zim opening is structured. Drop Coventry altogether I say, bring in Duffin. An off form Chigumbura is better than Coventry. I'd say as a tactic, start with Utseya (who is also a good slower bowler) NZ mindset will to be cautious upfront, then reserve Price for later where they would have planed to press on! Mpofu should be fine, and Creamer and Lamb should provide sufficient support. Come on Alister, admit Coventry hasnt worked (and is begining to affect Taylor as well), lets go to plan B! Expecting a NZ narrow win but praying and hoping for a Zim upset!

Posted by Lovemore on (March 3, 2011, 8:00 GMT)

its battle time and zim guys lets go out there and show them that we are way past that learning curve theories....i believe coventry should be given one more chance as for chigumbura wel it seems the sun is already setting, i am still against his appointment as captain, i believe taibu should be given another dance or better still give it to taylor.....

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 3, 2011, 7:54 GMT)

Price used to be called R.R.P standing for Raymond Razor Price, and I guess he deserves to be awarded his nickname again, because he is going to cut through all your strategies Black caps.........you can never simulate his spin in the nets.....He is truly one of a kind!!!...... The razor is going to decapitate the top order with his supporting blades......Utseya, Cremer and Lamb......cant wait to enjoy

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