ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
New Zealand v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Pallekele
Vettori aims to stop Pakistan's march
March 7, 2011
Nestled in the hills a half-hour drive from Kandy, the Pallekele Stadium is so obscurely placed that even some locals have had trouble locating it. The ground is yet to host a completed innings at international level, after its first Test was washed out, and it has been hidden during the first fortnight of the World Cup. Oddly enough, when New Zealand walk out on Tuesday, they'll have a slight edge over Pakistan.
The New Zealanders played a warm-up match at the venue back in August, making them one of the few international sides with experience in Pallekele. They bowled out Sri Lanka A for 91 and the pace in the pitch surprised them, and when they trained at the ground on Sunday, they were again greeted by a surface with plenty of speed.
"We practiced on a strip four or five over [from the match pitch] and it seemed a bit pacier than what you normally expect," the captain Daniel Vettori said on Monday. "But then the nets are pretty slow and low, so we're going to have to wing it, really, because there haven't been too many games here. We played a warm-up game here last year. I think we're expecting it to be a little bit quicker than most grounds, but it will still probably be a batter-friendly wicket."
New Zealand enter the match in fourth position in Group A, while Pakistan are unbeaten after three games, the only side to have won all their matches so far. New Zealand are fresh from an impressive ten-wicket win against Zimbabwe and they have also beaten Kenya, and easily accounted for Ireland in the practice matches.
However, they suffered a comprehensive defeat to Australia and were beaten by India by 117 runs in a warm-up game, and they know that to have any chance of reaching the meaningful stages of the tournament, they must beat some of the stronger sides. A win over Pakistan would be a fine way to get their World Cup heading in the right direction, but having lost at home to Pakistan this season, they know it will be a tough ask.
"There's always more to be done," Vettori said. "We know we've got a big game against Pakistan tomorrow. It's going to be a tough game, but hopefully there's some confidence from the Zimbabwe game. The guys played pretty well there, so if we can bring that same performance to this game, then it's going to be huge for our tournament.
"Pakistan know us exceptionally well as well. It was a pretty tightly fought series, in our conditions. This is more like their conditions so they're probably going to be an even better team than the one we came across. They're playing really well, so we have to find a way to beat them rather than anything else. They're going to be a tough opposition throughout the tournament."