Pakistan v New Zealand, 1st ODI, Abu Dhabi November 2, 2009

Kyle Mills doubtful for first one-dayer

Cricinfo staff

New Zealand fast bowler Kyle Mills is doubtful for the opening match of the three-ODI series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

"Kyle is a doubt for the game as he's got a side strain or shoulder injury," said captain Daniel Vettori. "I think everyone knows he's the No. 1 bowler in the world in one-day cricket so if he misses out it'll be a big loss for us."

New Zealand came into the series without opener Jesse Ryder, fast bowler Daryl Tuffey and allrounder Grant Elliott. In fact, they may also be without another pace bowler with Ian Butler picking up a knee injury while playing for Otago in the recently-concluded Champions League Twenty20.

The injuries to Mills and Butler could give Tim Southee an opportunity, with offspinner Nathan McCullum partnering Vettori in the two-man spin attack. "We haven't seen the wicket yet," Vettori said. "But we saw the history of it in the Pakistan-Australia matches [in April and May] and spinners dominated from early on. So it's more than likely we'll go with two spinners and hopefully that works."

Much of the attention, though, is likely to centre on New Zealand's batting, which has been their Achilles heel in recent times. But Vettori said he was confident that the batsmen could deliver in the upcoming series. "It's something we've definitely recognised but if you look at the actual line-up there's some real match-winners with the likes of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor, and Scott Styris brings a lot of experience," Vettori said. "So, while we don't have the rankings we'd like, I'd still back those guys to come in and do a job.

"I think these conditions are going to suit the batsmen so hopefully this is their tournament to really step up and make a difference for us."

Pakistan will play New Zealand in three ODIs and two Twenty20 internationals from November 3 to 13.