Allrounder looks to break drought April 18, 2007

Styris hopes New Zealand can lift World Cup


Scott Styris has been one of the leading batsmen of the tournament © AFP

Scott Styris thinks the current New Zealand team can do something none of their predecessors managed and win the World Cup. New Zealand, who are already through to their fifth semi-final in the tournament's nine-edition history, face the defending champions Australia in their final Super Eights match on Friday at Grenada.

But whereas a spot in the last four might have been the summit of ambition for previous New Zealand teams, Styris believes this outfit can secure the overall trophy. "I am biased, but I think this is the first New Zealand side that is considered to have the first genuine opportunity to win it," Styris said. "If we play well, we know we are a good enough side to win it.

"In the past, a semi-final spot has been a fair result for some of those teams. This team here, if we hadn't made the semis it would have been a failure. If we win it, then I think it's deserved. If we don't, it's disappointing."

The closest New Zealand came to winning the World Cup was in 1992, when they were on top in their semi-final against Pakistan until Inzamam-ul-Haq scored 60 off 37 balls to turn the game. By then New Zealand had already left a mark on the tournament through the innovative tactics and batting of the captain Martin Crowe.

"I was reasonably young," Styris said, "but I do remember it gripping New Zealand. New Zealand got in behind it big-time because they played well and out-thought a few opponents, which is where the history of New Zealand tactical smarts has come from."

Styris has been in superb batting form in the Caribbean and is currently fourth in the tournament's run-scoring list with 435 at 108.75, which was boosted by 111 not out in the six-wicket defeat by Sri Lanka. "I'm happy with the way I'm going about my innings, which is the thing that gets you good scores, particularly on these wickets," he said.

Stephen Fleming's side last met Australia during New Zealand's 3-0 cleansweep of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. "I'm sure Australia are still smarting a bit and we need to fight fire with fire," Styris said. "Against England and the West Indies we didn't let the foot off the throat, which has always been a problem for New Zealand sides in the past."

He also washed away any fears over a lack of intensity in Friday's game as the semi-finalists have already been settled. "Any time you play Australia you want to beat them," he said. "It's a great feeling, I promise you, even in a so-called 'meaningless' game."