World T20 news March 14, 2014

New Zealand target early momentum

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Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, has stressed on the importance of making a good start in the World T20. His side has enjoyed some good form across formats in the lead-up to the tournament and McCullum hopes to take full advantage of it.

New Zealand have relished home conditions and have been unbeaten against West Indies and India over the last three months. And individual performances have been rife as well: McCullum scored his country's first Test triple century against India a month after Corey Anderson broke the world record for fastest ODI century. However, McCullum will be wary of their poor tour of Bangladesh in October and November last year.

"We are quietly confident, but very respectful of the opposition," McCullum said. "We have just got to make sure that we adapt to the conditions really quickly, start the tournament well and try to build some momentum from there.

"That's going to be the key for us. If we do that, then I think we've got the personnel and the match-winners in our team to give it a good shake, but we're going to have to play consistently well throughout the tournament and probably get a little luck along the way too."

They have a lot to improve on their World T20 performances too, having won just nine out of 21 games in the four editions. In 2012, under similar conditions in Sri Lanka, they began by thumping Bangladesh, only to lose their next four games - two in one-over eliminators to the hosts and champions West Indies.

McCullum's priorities were on the 50-over World Cup, to be played in their backyard, and admitted to his team's difficulties while traveling. "I think the 2015 World Cup at home would certainly be a goal for us, but this one here, if we play well at the start then who knows where we can get to. Away from home, we've still got a lot of challenges and we've still got a lot of fences to climb to be a consistent touring team.

"This tournament is anyone's," he added. "I think every team in this competition has a good chance of being there at the business end of it. That's no different for us as well."

McCullum praised the all-round abilities of Anderson and Jimmy Neesham which have added depth to the side. Both players gave a glimpse of their talent in Bangladesh, and later Anderson unleashed himself on West Indies with that whirlwind century on New Year's day.

"Corey, in a very brief time in international cricket so far, has shown just how devastating he can be with bat in hand," McCullum said. "I think he has nailed it for us with the ball as well, in pressure situations He's an incredible talent, a huge part of our side. I think Jimmy Neesham is also a very dangerous player who brings a great skill set to this form of the game. These two guys certainly allow us to balance our team quite nicely as they are match-winners."

He was rather reserved when asked about his spin attack, which comprises the quickish off-breaks of Nathan McCullum, the left-arm spin of Ronnie Hira, with assistance from Kane Williamson and Anton Devcich.

"If he [Devcich] gets a start, he's been a very well-performed spinner for us back home. So we come in with four genuine spin-bowling options and they are going to be key here.

"Obviously it's a predominant skill set required in the subcontinent, especially in Chittagong, so we've got to make sure we give those guys every opportunity, and give them enough runs as well," McCullum said. "If we give them enough runs they'll come into their own and play a vital role for us."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here