Baroda v New Zealanders, Mumbai October 13, 2006

Vincent excels while Bond is restrained



Shane Bond was bent on conserving his energies for more demanding encounters © Getty Images

Led by three-wicket burst from Mark Gillespie and a fluent fifty from Scott Styris New Zealand registered a 64-run victory over Baroda in the practice game at the MIG Ground in Mumbai. Lou Vincent laid the platform with an explosive 24-ball 36 before Styris (52) and Hamish Marshall (40), helped by a biffed-40 from Shane Bond, lifted New Zealand to 267. Rishikesh Parab got the chase off in style, spanking Bond, but the impressive Gillespie broke the Baroda resistance to set New Zealand on course for an easy victory.

Cricinfo analyses the performance of the New Zealand batsmen.

Lou Vincent Vincent looked to be in fine aggressive touch today. Whenever they bowled full he drove and, when the mood seized him, lofted and when they dragged back the length, he cut and pulled. He started off with a pulled four in his second ball before erupting in the fourth over. After a fierce cut past point, he shouldered his arms to a length ball in the channel. Baroda fielders oohed and aahed as that one sailed perilously close to the off stump. Vincent stayed rooted to his position for sometime, stared at his off stump to check whether it was still standing, muttered something to himself and took guard again. You felt something was about to give. He strode forward to unfurl a lovely off drive before slapping the next one, a length-delivery, over mid-off. He repeated his aerial drive in the next over and followed it up with his most arrogant shot of the day. He walked forward and across to get outside the line to a full-length delivery on the middle and leg, bent his right knee and swept it behind square. The sparse press contingent purred in satisfaction while a small group of spectators at the far end, with their faces pinned against the fence, erupted into wild cheers. In the seventh over of the innings, he unfurled a cut, followed it up with a biffed-four over mid-off and then, suddenly, against the run of play, got out, going for a greedy chase outside the off stump.

Problem areas Nothing striking on show today but it would be interesting to see whether he can pull off his adventurous streak against better opposition.

Hamish Marshall Cautious at the start, he got his runs with a dab here, a nudge there before slowly easing into his drives. Showing a clear preference for the off side, he sent the ball twice to the cover fence - a crisp on-the-up drive being the highlight - cut once past point, and unfurled a well-balanced square-drive off the front foot. He, even, ran down the wicket once to flick over midwicket but those moments of indulgence were rare. He perished trying to dab one through the vacant slip region.

Problem areas Just outside off. Curiously, he chose to go back and across to fullish deliveries in an attempt to cut and dab. It, eventually, led to his dismissal. He would soon learn that to prosper in India you have to be fluent on your front foot.

Scott Styris He made a statement even before facing a single ball. Strode out to the middle wearing his cap, while nearly all the other Black Caps chose to don a helmet. Received a bouncer first up from which he calmly swayed away. He took some time to get settled, choosing to deflect within the 30-yard circle and nearly perished square-driving uppishly to gully. Soon, he was to discover his timing and shots. Against the seamers, he favoured the off side, twice pinging the cover fence but turned violent when the spinners were brought on. He deposited the offspinner Yusuf Pathan over the midwicket fence, a compound wall, actually, which separated the ground from the road, the ball startling the customers in a corner shop. The next one disappeared over the sight screen at the far end. Both balls, surprisingly, came back. Perhaps careful not to hurt innocent bystanders, he chose the cow corner, inside the arena, for the next ball.

Problem areas Stamina. As the innings wore on, he grew visibly tired, repeatedly wiping the sweat off his brow and, eventually, succumbed to the hot conditions. After 82 minutes in the middle, he cramped up and chose to retire hurt after a fluent 52-ball 55.

Nathan Astle Didn't stay long enough to find out whether he was in form or ... He started off with a trademark punch through the off-side ring but perished to a fatal push away from his body. Not his mistake that it was a lovely outswinger that landed on a length on the off stump and moved away.

Jacob Oram The tall allrounder shelved his attacking instincts and chose to deal in pushes, sweeps and drives down the ground. Only once did he display bravado, serving a clean hit on-the-up over the seamer's head. He got behind the line to punch and deflect the seamers and deployed sweeps and drives to spin. Also, he endured the conditions well, batting solidly for 64 minutes.

Problem areas Tthough he looked assured when driving or sweeping the spinners, he, occasionally, got into a tangle when he tried to cut them. With only two fielders in the off side ring - a short third-man and a widish cover - the cut shot was obviously a good run-making option but his reading of the length was not always spot on. He was cramped for room a few times and seemed to play for the non-existent turn on a few occasions.

Brendon McCullum Struggled against spin. Failed to read either the length or turn and looked vulnerable in the middle.

Daniel Vettori Looked at ease against the spinners. He unfurled a series of lovely cuts and dabs behind square on the off side. Whenever he cut, he leant on to his back foot, and, unlike Oram, brought his flexible wrists and soft hands into play. He also came down the track to drive pleasingly down the ground.

Problem areas Like Styris, he was waging, what was increasingly, a lost battle against the heat. Bottles of cold water were poured over his neck as he struggled against nature's power. It took its toll on his body and he couldn't find much power when he tried to slog at the death. He fell unable to find the energy either to reach the ball or reach his crease in time.

Shane Bond Choosing to conserve his energy for bowling, he biffed his way around against the spinners. A slap over the bowler, a heave to the cow corner and a murderous loft over wide long-off saw him roll along merrily and he ended the New Zealand innings with a clean hit down the ground.

Sriram Veera is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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