Marshall to help steady injury-hit top order

Fulton set to fill opening role

Cricinfo staff

March 28, 2007

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Peter Fulton is ready to step into the opening role in the absence of Lou Vincent © Getty Images

Peter Fulton is likely to open and Hamish Marshall will slot in at No. 3 in New Zealand's first Super Eights match against West Indies on Thursday. Marshall should slip straight into the side when he arrives in the Caribbean as New Zealand's top-order injury worries continue.

Marshall replaced Lou Vincent in the squad after Vincent suffered a broken wrist during a practice session, while a hamstring strain should keep Ross Taylor out of Thursday's game. Stephen Fleming said the enforced changes were not ideal but Fulton and Marshall had the ability to help New Zealand progress.

"Pete is a different type of player [to Vincent] and if anything his form is outstanding," Fleming told AFP. "To leave him out of the first couple of games was incredibly difficult.

"The positive is he gets a chance, and a consistent chance, to bat in one spot for a while. Pete's played up and down the order knowing he was going to be a utility batter."

Fulton has only opened once in an ODI, on debut in 2004. He was in strong form in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series in February but has only had one opportunity at the World Cup, making 47 against Canada.

Fleming said coming to the West Indies and being asked to play immediately would be tough for Marshall, who made 80 in New Zealand's domestic State Championship on Monday. "It's going to be a big challenge for Hamish and certainly the team realises that," he said.

"We'll do everything possible to make sure he's ready to go. It's a pretty important 36 hours but I guess knowing he's going to play, coming off some runs at home and being back in the team will give him some energy and adrenalin."

Fleming said New Zealand hoped to put their eventful few days behind them and move on to the important business of trying to win Super Eights matches. "It's been a dramatic week with Lou going and Rosco [Taylor] working hard on getting back, it has changed the balance of the side," Fleming said.

"But the core is still there and the bonus has been we've had six days to adjust - it hasn't been thrown on us the day before a game so we've been able to prepare mentally for it. The best thing is the [first-choice] bowlers are still intact, they've been the usual suspects."

New Zealand's match against West Indies is at Antigua and the hosts will have to play three days in a row after their game against Australia on Tuesday was interrupted by rain. West Indies would have to bat on Wednesday, the reserve day, before facing up to New Zealand barely 24 hours later.

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