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Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, has said allrounder James Franklin's performances in the ODI series against India have made him a strong contender for a place in the World Cup squad. Franklin was the visitor's only bright spark in a series that saw them lose 0-5 and extend their run of defeats without a win to 11. He narrowly missed out on his first ODI century, making 98 not out in the fourth ODI in Bangalore, and got 72 not out in the third match in Vadodara.
"Franklin has been in and out of the team but he has performed well on this tour," Vettori, who is also a New Zealand selector, said. "There are about three guys competing for that [the allrounder's] place in the World Cup team, but James has proved himself worthy of a spot."
Franklin wasn't in New Zealand's original squad for either the Tests or the ODIs. He was flown in as a replacement for the injured fast bowler Hamish Bennett during the Tests, and then took Jesse Ryder's place in the squad for the one-dayers as well after Ryder injured his calf.
Vettori said India's balanced side was the difference between the two teams. "India scored over us because they struck a balance in every department in the Tests as well as the ODI series. We were not consistent. One day we batted and bowled well but the other day we didn't. In one-day matches you have to display some specific abilities like the ones India showed."
Vettori, though, was confident there wouldn't be questions over his captaincy following the poor run. "I think I have led the team as well as I can. We understand the result. They change me if they feel there is a need to do it." He has captained New Zealand in 73 ODIs.
New Zealand's next assignment is a home series against Pakistan, which will see them play three Twenty20 internationals, three Tests and six ODIs between December 10 and February 5. Vettori said New Zealand needed to perform against Pakistan to regain confidence ahead of the World Cup, but they were more comfortable playing at home. All of New Zealand's last eleven losses have come on subcontinent pitches. The last time they played an ODI series at home was against Australia in March, a series they lost 3-2. In February, they beat Bangladesh 3-0 at home.
India's tour of South Africa begins with the first Test at Centurion on December 16, and Vettori said India had a good chance of winning. "India have been the leading team in Tests in recent times. They are an experienced side with some remarkably talented batsmen and bowlers. I think cricket fans would be keen that they play some lively cricket and win."