'We never got out of second gear'
Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand captain, admitted that his team put in a below-par performance against Zimbabwe on Wednesday, but said that the display would help the players focus better for the rest of the Videocon Cup tournament. New Zealand were patchy with both bat and ball, scoring only 238 - a big come-down from the 397 they amassed against Zimbabwe in their earlier game - and then allowed their opponents to get to within 27 runs of victory.
"The adrenaline was running a bit because it got quite close at the end, but that was good for us," Fleming said after the match. "We didn't play well throughout, we never really got out of second gear but sometimes you need those kind of wins. They keep you focused for the rest of the tournament. We stuttered our way through the innings and scraped to 238 - against India we've got to be better than that."
Fleming, though, wasn't too concerned by the relative closeness of the contest. "It's a good exercise for us, a line in the sand as to where we need to be," he said. "Twice now we've fallen short of that mark, but it's not going to take much to get there."
New Zealand have already confirmed their place in the final with an all-win record in three games. With India almost certain to be their opponents in that match, Friday's contest between the two will be a warm-up to the final, allowing each team to size up the other. "We can look at what we want to get out of it [Friday's match]," Fleming said. "We want to win, firstly, but we can look at other things like whatever information there is to be gathered because there is the bigger picture to consider."
One worry for them would be the fitness of Chris Cairns, their star allrounder who missed Wednesday's match due to a strained hamstring. "His hamstring is a bit tight and we're nursing him through," Fleming said. "Hopefully he'll be fit for the game against India because he needs the cricket under his belt after coming out of a New Zealand winter."
Meanwhile, Tatenda Taibu, the Zimbabwe captain, was quite pleased with his team's fighting performance. "We've definitely improved in our bowling and in the field, and our batting is also better," Taibu said. "It was getting close at the end, and maybe we should have been more positive at the start and in the middle of our innings. We've been having problems against the new ball, so my message to the guys was to try and spend more time at the crease and get some confidence back."