Daniel Vettori to bat at No.6 in decider
Daniel Vettori's responsibilities have increased after it was agreed he would bat at No.6 in tomorrow's decider against Pakistan in Napier. The decision was made to accommodate an extra bowler on what Vettori has described as a pitch "quite different" from the ones used on previous occasions at the venue.
"I just had a brief discussion with Mark Greatbatch, we've got our heads round it," Vettori said. "I'll be batting at No.6, and we'll play the extra bowler this time. We're tossing it up between going with four seamers, or three seamers and two spinners."
Vettori has batted at No.6 in ODIs and the promotion comes at the time when the batting line-up is in dire need of some solidity, following failures in both innings in the second Test in Wellington. "I'm excited about it in some ways and a little nervous as well," Vettori said about his new role. "When you bat at No.6, your expectations are different and I suppose I have to take a mindset that I have taken into all my batting displays. Batting at No.6 in ODIs has helped a bit, and I realize my role a bit more. If I can do that, it gives us a nice all-round option."
In the event that New Zealand go in with four seamers, Tim Southee, who came in as a replacement for Shane Bond in the squad, is likely to play his first game of the series, while Jeetan Patel remains the spinning option. Grant Elliott, Vettori said, was struggling from a knee injury and a final decision on his place will taken tomorrow. With the inclusion of BJ Watling as opener, Daniel Flynn could be expected to drop down the order.
Four of the last five Tests in Napier have ended in a draw, but Vettori felt the track this time had more to offer for the bowlers. "The curator has worked hard on putting a bit more pace in it and wants it to be a touch livelier than in the past," he said. "He said everytime there's a new ball taken, there's a bit in it. We've played on some tough decks in the past; the balance will be a lot more even in this game."
The toss, Vettori added, would not be vital. "With the grass cover on it, it will be pretty consistent throughout the Test," he said. "The new ball will play its part through the five days hopefully, which is what you want and then it turns into a good batting deck."
Only Ross Taylor in the top order has managed to measure up to the accuracy and persistence of Pakistan's bowlers, and Vettori admitted his batsmen were under pressure to perform, but did not require an overhaul in their technique. "They are under a bit of pressure. Sometimes in these situations you try to reinvent your game and they just need a 5 to 10 percent improvement," he said. "It's not completely turning over their game, just a few key areas to improve on and if they do that it's going to help our resolve. It goes towards bowling and fielding too, and if we rectify just a couple of key areas that will make a difference to us."
Pakistan's bowlers, led by Mohammad Asif, have made the best use of favourable conditions on offer in the series, and Vettori said his bowlers had much to learn from their counterparts. "Asif has been so successful for the lengths he's bowled. We need to get it fuller to utilise what movement there is," he said. The New Zealand batsmen, Vettori said, had to contend with a varied attack. "All three seamers bring something different; the left-armer [Mohammad Aamer] who bangs it in, the line-length bowler [Asif] who bowls in outstanding areas and [Umar] Gul who mixes it up a bit, so it's important we counter these different factors."
The Napier Test will be Iain O'Brien's last, and Vettori was full of praise for his "go-to" bowler. "He's been a really good servant of New Zealand cricket," he said. "It's only been a short Test career but most of that has coincided with my captaincy and he has done a great job, and I've looked at him as the go-to guy in the team and he hasn't let me down."