Shanan Stewart sweating on Taylor's injury
Shanan Stewart has never been so interested in Ross Taylor's leg. The chances of Stewart making his ODI debut on Tuesday depend largely on how Taylor feels ahead of the third match in Hamilton but the captain Daniel Vettori is in no doubt that Stewart can handle the step up to international cricket if required.
"He's scored runs for a long time now for Canterbury and he's a very good player of spin bowling," Vettori said. "He's quite aggressive in those middle stages. I think Twenty20 cricket has really helped his game, and of late he's in form. Whilst it's four-day cricket he'll still be feeling good about himself."
Vettori was speaking of the 227 that Stewart made over the past week in the Plunket Shield match in New Plymouth, after which he got a call-up to the one-day squad. Vettori believes Taylor is a 50-50 chance to overcome the leg problem that kept him out of the second ODI.
New Zealand will consider playing Taylor even if he is not fully fit, such is his importance to the team. But after nearly a decade in the domestic system, Stewart, 27, is looking forward to the chance to step out for his country and test his skills against the No. 1 one-day team in the world.
"It's a dream and if you want to make your debut you may as well make it against the best and see where you're at," Stewart said after joining the squad in Hamilton. "It's just having a clear mind, being confident in yourself and being aggressive, hopefully I can carry that on."
Australia will be keen to make Stewart's introduction to international cricket as tough as possible, although the visitors know their bowling is not the main concern in their camp. In both games, Australia have batted first and made totals they felt were sub-par, and it is a trend the coach Tim Nielsen wants to rectify in Hamilton.
"I don't think we've made as many runs as we would have liked," Nielsen said of the Napier and Auckland matches. "Both the grounds were the size and setup for big scores. We feel that we're close to playing well but we're certainly not playing anywhere near our best at the moment. It is a big game. It'll be hard to win the last two knowing that you're 2-1 down."