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
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.