ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Group A, World Cup 2011, Mumbai
Taylor identifies loss of wickets as downfall
Nagraj Gollapudi at the Wankhede Stadium
March 18, 2011
New Zealand may wonder how far they have progressed after the seven-wicket defeat against Australia three weeks ago. Then, as now, their batsmen failed to build partnerships. Then, as now, New Zealand collapsed without putting up a fight. The only difference: back then they were tried by pace, while today the noose was tightened by the spinners. Just replace Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait and Brett Lee with Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga.
So have New Zealand become such an easy picking? Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, was confident that New Zealand never liked the variety in his bowling attack. And it was not a recent allergy they had developed. "We kind of understand that they find the variation in our bowling attack a bit troublesome," Sangakkara said after the 112-run victory. "They find Mendis, Malinga and Murali quite difficult, so we try to maximise on that particular fact."
The only time New Zealand's batsmen showed some promise was when Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor were steadily beginning to rebuild the innings after the early loss of the openers. Ryder was timing the ball well, while Taylor showed the same spirit visible during his match-winning century against Pakistan. But it was not an easy pitch - it was taking sufficient turn, and coupled with a good bounce, it was a shot in the arm for the spinners. Also the dew made the ball skid. Patience was New Zealand's life vest. Sadly their batsmen left too many loose ends and lost their way pretty quickly.
After the demoralising loss to Australia, John Wright, the New Zealand coach, had imposed a condition that it was mandatory the top order lasted for at least 35 overs. The other rider was that not more than three wickets could be lost. On Friday, the New Zealand innings folded in exactly 35 overs. "We just did not get there," Taylor, New Zealand's stand-in captain for the game, said. "We put plans in place to try to achieve them and today we did not do it."
It would be harsh to single out Taylor because he was only filling in for the injured Daniel Vettori, who has been sidelined by a knee injury. Also, the absence of Kyle Mills, a frontline bowler, has not helped matters. New Zealand's problems were aggravated when Hamish Bennett, Mill's replacement, was forced to leave the field midway into his fifth over after he picked up a calf strain.
Taylor felt that Bennett's absence in the crucial middle overs allowed Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to establish themselves and lay a good foundation. "In losing Hamish Bennett, we lost a little bit of firepower during the middle stages. But the way we came back to restrict them to 260 with a bowler down was not too bad. But we just kept losing wickets. At the end we were up with the rate but when you keep losing wicket 260 becomes a big target."
The loss will not hurt New Zealand's cause much as they have already booked a quarter-finals' berth. Even if it is not yet clear who their opponent will be, Taylor felt that it was important for the players to regroup fast and start from a new page. "The confidence would have taken a dent. But we have played some good cricket over the last little while. We have got to think positively. In the next couple of days we will know who our opponents are and then plan accordingly. The break allows us to recover from the injury toll."
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Slow left-arm spinners generally do well in T20s, plus he can also bat a bit. Then why doesn't he stop runs, take many wickets, or bat quicker in the IPL?