ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

New Zealand v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Pallekele

Vettori aims to stop Pakistan's march

Brydon Coverdale in Pallekele

March 7, 2011

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

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.

Hamish Bennett in delivery stride, World Cup, Pallekele, March 7, 2011
Hamish Bennett could find more pace in the Pallekele pitch than the others he's bowled on in the World Cup © Getty Images

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."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 31 
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Posted by Ali on (March 9, 2011, 5:17 GMT)

the title of this article should be "Kamran Akmal aims to stop Pakistan's march"

Posted by Richard on (March 8, 2011, 13:58 GMT)

4 for 27....ouch! The Kiwi total is looking bigger and bigger.

Posted by malik on (March 8, 2011, 10:20 GMT)

pak will win,,,,,,,, inshallah

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 8, 2011, 8:18 GMT)

Both teams have problems with their batting line up. The team batted well ll win this game...:) Good luck Pakistan, good luck Afridi...:)

Posted by David on (March 8, 2011, 7:50 GMT)

Mccullum fires well Game over. He falls apart early Nz lose. Mark my words

Posted by Muhammad Rizwan Saleem on (March 8, 2011, 7:49 GMT)

Very big match between Newzealand and Pakistan, Hope that Newzealand will fight because in last ODI in newzealand series with Pak, they perform very much better.

But remember Pakistan will give tought time in match

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 8, 2011, 7:45 GMT)

good chance for the black caps to get up here.. never write off a kiwi

Posted by Lakmal on (March 8, 2011, 7:07 GMT)

At last..Srilankan has made a fast,bowling friendly stadium..all the best both teams.

Posted by Owais on (March 8, 2011, 6:56 GMT)

If the pitch is fast then its no secret that Pakistani batsmen would already be under pressure. If Pakistan bat first on a pacy wicket, NZ can actually talk about skittling them out for score of say less than 120 !!! Anyways, good luck Pakistan !

Posted by Waqas on (March 8, 2011, 6:55 GMT)

On subcontinent pitches, PAK got 80% to win the game against NZ...


Today's Match Result:

PAK beat NZ :D

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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