Bennett happy in supporting role
Hamish Bennett, the New Zealand fast-bowler, has insisted he's happy to support Tim Southee and James Franklin despite being an obvious new-ball candidate after his heroics in New Zealand's nine-wicket defeat of Pakistan in the first ODI.
He and Southee were expected to open the bowling but allrounder Franklin took the new ball with Bennett second change. The formula clearly worked well as Southee finished with man-of-the-match figures of 5 for 33 and Bennett chipping in with three wickets of his own.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said a horses-for-courses approach was being taken and with the history of bowler-friendly conditions Queenstown, Southee and Franklin's ability to swing the new ball would likely see them open again in Wednesday's second match.
"I think we'll look to use James, particularly in Queenstown where the wicket probably suits the swing and seam bowler," Vettori said. "When we get to the likes of Hamilton and Napier, maybe we'll revisit it on the flatter wickets."
Vettori felt that Bennett, who finished with 3 for 26 from eight overs in just his third one-day international, was better suited to first or second change.
"I think that's where he's most comfortable, but if he keeps bowling as well as he did [on Saturday], there's no reason why he can't step up into that opening role. We just hope he keeps performing that way."
Bennett, 23, is by far the quickest bowler in the team and generated good pace and bounce throughout the opening ODI. He was happy to start with the older ball in the circumstances but hopes to get hold of the new ball in future and feels he can generate more pace as he settles into the team.
"I think Franky and Timmy do a good job swinging the new ball so we've got to use that, especially with the conditions we had [on Saturday]," he said. "I probably rely more on bounce so if I can use that and bowl a heavy nut it's going to help."
"I've never bowled [at the stadium] before so it was quite funny, it always felt like you were bowling into [the wind], so I found that quite tough. Hopefully in Queenstown I have the wind at my back. I think in Bangladesh last year I got clocked just under 145kmh so if I can get the conditions going my way, hopefully a bit quicker but who knows? If it's not in the right area it doesn't really matter, does it?"
New Zealand routed Pakistan with their batsmen chasing down the modest target of 125 in just 17.2 overs. The new opening partnership of Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill surged with an 84-run stand in 10 overs as John Wright's first move for the ODI team succeeded. Ryder returned to form after a difficult Test series with 55 from 34 balls, while Guptill ended 40 not out and Ross Taylor was unbeaten on 23.
After an 11-match losing streak last year Vettori was pleased to return to winning ways but cautioned the conditions were nothing like what the side will face come the World Cup next month. "It's a difficult one because we're not going to play on any wickets like that at the World Cup but this series is about getting that winning feeling back."