ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
New Zealand v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2011, Group A, Ahmedabad
Vettori lauds 'perfect' day
Nagraj Gollapudi in Ahmedabad
March 4, 2011
Days like these have become a rarity for New Zealand. A disciplined line from their new-ball pair of Kyle Mills and Tim Southee, an agile and pro-active fielding unit that forced two spectacular run-outs, rounded off by controlled yet aggressive batting from the openers made New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori call it a "perfect" day.
"I am not sure if you can ask for too much more - we wanted a complete performance out of ourselves and right from the start we put it together. To dismiss a good Zimbabwe line-up for 160 on a very good (batting) wicket and then chase it with ten wickets in hand, I can't really ask too much more from the guys," Vettori said, describing his feelings after New Zealand became the only team this World Cup to win by a ten-wicket margin twice.
In their tournament opener, Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill had dashed to the target of 70 in 37 minutes as New Zealand demolished Kenya in Chennai. But that was followed by a below-par performance against arch-rivals Australia five days later, where none of the New Zealand batsmen got a start and the bowlers found it hard to defend 206, with the defending champions registering a seven-wicket victory.
New Zealand had arrived on the back of a 2-3 series loss to Pakistan at home. They had also lost 18 of their previous 29 matches from the beginning of last year. That involved series whitewashes in Bangladesh and then India. The big worry was the constant failures of the batsmen to raise a platform. After Ireland's improbable victory against England, New Zealand were wary of Zimbabwe, who have won matches against higher-ranked teams in the last one year including India and Sri Lanka. "There was a little bit of pressure around the game. It was a must-win game," Vettori admitted about the mindset at the start of the match.
But Hamish Bennett's spectacular dive to run out Charles Coventry in the second over of the morning triggered a quick downfall, and even before the first hour was over, Zimbabwe were in dire straits. If not for the 87 runs gathered by Nos 7 to 10, Elton Chigumbara's men could've faced the same assault that West Indies inflicted on Bangladesh in Dhaka later in the afternoon. "It is hard to bounce back from there," Vettori said of Zimbabwe's plight at 46 for 5 after 15 overs. "If you can get those initial breakthroughs you can put a lot of pressure on the team. Then you can set attacking fields which makes it difficult for the opposition. We were fortunate to take those early wickets through great seam bowling, some very good fielding which made my job and the rest of the bowlers' a lot easier."
Vettori was also glad that the McCullum-Guptill combination had played sensibly to bolster New Zealand's confidence ahead of marquee contests against Pakistan next week and later Sri Lanka, two teams New Zealand has struggled badly against recently. Their unbeaten partnership today was the highest by a New Zealand opening pair in a World Cup and eighth overall.
Vettori said the influence of John Wright cannot be forgotten. Wright took over as New Zealand coach from the Pakistan series and has been blunt in his appraisals of batsmen ever since. During training here he has worked hard having one-on-one sessions. Yesterday Ross Taylor said that Wright had made it clear to the batsmen in a closed-door meeting that they had to step up as a group and not individually. Vettori said the openers' success proved the players were understanding the Wright way. "What we did with the ball allowed Brendon and Martin to take their time, get themselves in and really produce innings of timing and quality. They still played their natural games. There was no need to score at any pace. It was a good controlled innings and we got on top quite early."
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