ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Canada v New Zealand, World Cup 2011, Group A, Mumbai

McCullum feels confidence growing for New Zealand

Nagraj Gollapudi in Mumbai

March 13, 2011

Comments: 9 | Text size: A | A

Like Canada captain Ashish Bagai rightly pin-pointed in the end, New Zealand won the match an hour into the day. It was a period when Canada's seamers were supposed to build the pressure, take wickets and exert control on a pitch glistening with moisture. Instead it was Brendon McCullum who stamped his authority and built early momentum for New Zealand which they never lost for the rest of the game. McCullum's maiden World Cup century is bound to bring cheers to New Zealand, a team in the rebuilding phase.

Despite winning four out of the five group games so far, including the last three on a trot, New Zealand continue to remain pretenders. Injuries to key players like Daniel Vettori and today Kyle Mills pulling out due to a leg strain, the inconsistency of the top-order, and the untested middle-order, which has not got enough time due to easy victories against Kenya and Zimbabwe, are questions that nag New Zealand.

Still, McCullum believed that the team were on the right path. "The camp is slowly building some confidence. We are slowly starting to play how we want to play and we move into the next game knowing that we have played well over the last couple of games," he said.

New Zealand started their campaign by thrashing Kenya in their opening match, but perished against Australia in what was originally ticked as a marquee clash. John Wright was understandably admonished at the lack of application from the batsmen and gave them an earful in private, while jotting a list of dos and don'ts. The schoolboy treatment has worked. In their wins against Zimbabwe, Pakistan and today Canada, the top order worked hard on making sure they didn't gift their wickets away.

Brendon McCullum celebrates his ton against Canada, Canada v New Zealand, Group A, World Cup 2011, Mumbai, March 13 2011
Brendon McCullum scored his first World Cup century as New Zealand coasted to a third straight win © AFP

McCullum, in the company of Martin Guptill, took advantage of the wayward bowling from the Canadian seamers and the pair raised hopes of a big stand. But Guptill, like Jesse Ryder who replaced him, would be disappointed about not cashing in on a good start. Both men reined in their aggression and to play a controlled knock but then lost patience and fell to casual strokes. Fortunately McCullum hung around and played at a steady tempo. There was no adrenalin rush as he understood he could be aggressive by picking the bad balls while rotating the strike, a point Wright has noted in his book.

"Today was a key victory, too, because we were able to play to roles we were trying to play to and execute the kind of skills we were hoping to achieve. Anytime you win, anytime you perform well, anytime that you get some confidence out of the game, that certainly helps" he said.

Kyle Mills injury scare

  • Kyle Mills has a strain in his left quadricep, which he aggravated while bowling his third over and was forced to leave the field. The physio has advised him rest and a clear word on his status is expected in the next 48 hours

McCullum believed the reason New Zealand had more performers today was because every player is understanding his role and playing within himself. "When we came here we had gone through pretty tough time back home (a 3-2 series loss to Pakistan at home). But none of that mattered once we arrived here. It was a matter of making sure this team was able to go out and play its best cricket, each of us understood our roles. John Wright has been instrumental has been able to offer that experience and confidence to each player. We have seen this New Zealand team operate with a clear role which you can't say about some New Zealand teams in the past. The biggest turned around is that we are going in with more confidence," McCullum said.

New Zealand have entered World Cups in the past as underdogs, making the semi-finals twice in the last three World Cups (1999 and 2007). McCullum, who played in the 2007 edition, believed the past New Zealand teams created opportunities. This team is now following that example. "It is work in progress. The tournament is spun out over six to seven weeks. It is not a short tournament. It is a matter of trying to get momentum and when you get it you try and hold on it. From our point of view we have a little bit of momentum now and there is another great opportunity to continue that momentum we have built in the last few games. The confidence is starting to seep into the team. That is something we desperately need. We are proud of New Zealand teams have been able to achieve in the past World Cups - they consistently gave themselves the opportunity."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 9 
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Posted by andrew on (March 15, 2011, 22:25 GMT)

@ Sid Thaly. I also don't under stand why people talkup 'swing and miss' Mills batting ability. Sure he and Southee can do the job from time to time but at the end of the day they are bowlers not batsmen. I would hate to see Mills or Southee promoted up the order as pinch hitters as Eng has done with Swann. Since the advent of T20 cricket all batsmen know how to score quickly and, especially in India, I think the days of the pinch hitters are gone. Its a out-dated tactic and I think any international bowler would be happy to see Mills or Southee walk to the crease instead of a recognised batsman.

Posted by andrew on (March 15, 2011, 22:19 GMT)

@Sidd Thaly. I dont think NZ are over reliant on Ross Taylor being there for the batting powerplays. NZ batting order is stacked with big hitters; McCullum, Guptil, Ryder, Taylor, Franklyn, Styris, Oram are all big hitters and enjoying clearing the rope. Because of the options here i think its is NZ tactic for the most set batsman to be the aggressor in the PP over, which just so happens to have been Taylor in the last 2 games.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2011, 3:50 GMT)

yea but the kiwis shud promote their strikers up the order..shudnt waste southee,oram n mills coz that can bring in some additional 30-40 runs...yes as mentioned above they r making the best use of powerplays..but hopefully more runs shud come from others..cant rest everything on ross all the time..i think they r making i to the semis yet again!!!!!!!! hopefully one knock can take them to the finals...

Posted by andrew on (March 15, 2011, 0:02 GMT)

I'm not glossing over NZs obvious deficiencies and poor record of late but there are definately positives for the NZ team and NZ fans. McCullum (225 runs @ 75), Guptil (209 @ 69.66) and Taylor (212 @106) have all scroed runs and have all scored match winning innings. Southee is bowling consistently well and along with Vettori and Mills is going at less than 4 runs per over. What this means, i dont know, as apart from Pak they have played minnows and there was the capitulation against Aus. But what NZ can say they are doing, that no other team is doing, is using the PP smartly and effectively. If they can continue to do so it may be the difference in the big games. The Sri game will give a good indication of whether NZ are pretenders or a dangerous team coming into form at the right time.

Posted by Thamizh on (March 14, 2011, 9:10 GMT)

Newzealanders are the most talented in the world cup..the short of confidence is taking the toll for them..one thing they got believe.,indian pitches are nomore a only spinners paradise..c the way Steyn bowled against india..they got Bennet, the fearsome fastbowler, then all the pace all rounders, if they hang on until 40 overs with 5 to 6 wickets in hand with 180 or 200 in board, they can turn up 350 plus and defend the score by their very decent attack..please omit Jamie how..

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 14, 2011, 7:11 GMT)

@hrehman, oh please pakistan were lucky to beat sri lanka and canada. Pakistan will be lucky to qualify for QFs i wouldnt be suprised if zim beat u guys and then pakistan getting tonked by 200 runs from australia. Just NZ were just playing with pakistan in the last series and blindsiding u at the world cup.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 14, 2011, 4:06 GMT)

@imsingular who can Nz have a good chance to win against New Zealand

Posted by Powderdubdub on (March 13, 2011, 23:38 GMT)

Frankly New Zealand were struggling against Pakistan until Kamran Akmal dropped catches after catches. Its mostly that other teams lose the match rather New Zealand win it.

Posted by Narayan on (March 13, 2011, 21:03 GMT)

Lucky for New Zealand that next game with Sri Lanka is not in Sri Lanka. This gives NZ good chance to win against New Zealand. If that pushes Sri Lanka to the bottom and SA adorn the top of the Group B ite would be interesting to see an encounter between Malinga and Saffers in Columbo. I will bet Sri Lanka to prevail, and Saffers might regret being at the top of the Group B.

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