Northern Districts opener Anton Devcich has said the team had worked "bloody hard" on playing spin, in preparation for the Champions League T20. Northern Districts won their third successive game in the qualifying round, eliminating Mumbai Indians and joining Hobart Hurricanes, Kings XI Punjab, Cape Cobras and Barbados Tridents in Group B of the main stage of the competition.
"I guess New Zealanders are renowned for not playing spin bowling well. We have worked bloody hard back home on playing spin bowling," Devcich told clt20.com. "We have tried to replicate the pitches back home and a lot of guys went to England and played for New Zealand A on dry wickets. We have put a lot of emphasis on that part of the game because it is such a major part of doing well in the competition.
"I came to the subcontinent with the New Zealand team for the T20 World Cup and I am pretty familiar with the conditions now. A lot of the other guys in our side have never been to India and have never played here. So it is an eye opener for them. Everyone is putting their hand up and doing well which is very satisfying."
Devcich said the key to him succeeding in these conditions was to play straight. "The horizontal shots will just flow on if I play straight. I base my game around playing straight and playing smart cricket. If I try to over-hit the ball too much, that's when I lose my shape and don't bat well. Holding my shape, playing straight is the key to my game."
Devcich has had opening stands of 41, 15 and 83 with Kane Williamson during the qualifiers. Though he has a top score of 39 against Mumbai Indians, Williamson has made two half-centuries. "You just watch the way he plays and everything looks effortless for him. He almost brings a calming effect to the crease when he bats at the other end," Devcich said when asked about his rapport with Williamson. "Personally, I really like batting with him because he is the one who brings me down to a level when I am too pumped up; he talks about good scoring options and a lot more in the middle. He is a fantastic player to bat with."
Northern Districts will play their first Group B match on September 19, against Cape Cobras. "Now begins a new challenge for us," Devcich said. "We walked into this tournament wanting to qualify first and then take it from there. Now that we have done that, we will sit down and reassess how we are going to go about in the rest of the tournament. We would not be here if we didn't think we could win it and I think we can win it with the team that we have got.