Following his match-winning knock of 87 against England at St Lucia, Scott Styris, the New Zealand allrounder, has said that the pressure to retain his place in the squad motivated him to raise his performance and guide his side home.
Styris, who came in as a replacement for the injured Peter Fulton, bailed New Zealand of deep trouble with an unbeaten stand of 138 with Jacob Oram, who made 63. He also chipped in with two wickets, including that of the in-form Paul Collingwood, which helped restrict England to 209. His allround performance earned him the Man of the Match award.
"I knew the heat was on me to go out there and deliver put on a performance worthy of keeping my position in the side," Styris was quoted in AFP. "I'm pleased that that was able to happen."
Styris said that he felt glad to get his groove back, especially since his return to international cricket after being sidelined with a back injury. He made a comeback midway through the CB Series in Australia which preceded the World Cup.
"I hadn't played very well since I came back from my back injury so it was great to contribute today," he said. "I set myself to have a good World Cup and I wanted to do well here and it's been a good start."
Reflecting on the partnership with Oram, Styris said that the pair were intent on preserving wickets, given that the target was always well within reach. England struck early, removing the top three with just 19 on board before Styris and Craig McMillan led the recovery with a stand of 53.
"We thought we could only lose the game if we got bowled out, so we really just had to go out and play and just take it as deep as we could," he added. "We have a naturally aggressive side and runs still came, probably for the last 30 overs, we didn't really need to take a risk."
Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand captain, said that it was a relief to get the two points from the win. "It was a tense day," said Fleming. "The first game could have a massive bearing on the next stage and to win it was a great relief."
Yet he was not willing to get carried away by the fact that New Zealand would be going into the Super 8's with two points from their win against England. "We have to do the right work in these next two games," Fleming said. "But the four teams carrying a win could easily lose the first game [in the Super 8's] and then you are back to scratch."
Fleming also praised his fast bowler Shane Bond who dismissed the dangerour batsmen - Kevin Pietersen (60) and Andrew Flintoff (0). "That really cut down a 250 par score to 210," he said. "Flintoff and Pietersen, coming to the end of an innings, can be incredibly dangerous."