James Franklin's match-winning bowling cameo against India will not see him elevated to the hot seat for the Twenty20 World Cup, New Zealand captain Ross Taylor says.
The Black Caps boarded a plane to Colombo in buoyant mood last night after somehow conjuring a one-run win over India in Chennai and avoiding serious injury after a sickening collision between Kyle Mills and Brendon McCullum during the match.
Franklin's bowling had not set the world on fire in recent times. But after being unexpectedly tossed the ball in the 14th over he took 2-26 off four with some nice variation, and denied Rohit Sharma the four he required off the final delivery as India pursued 168. A regular with IPL side the Mumbai Indians, and at his best in the subcontinent, Franklin showed his potential all-round value in Sri Lanka.
"He wouldn't be my first choice but did bowl very well and gave us more options," Taylor said. "Talking before the game Franky was more a two or three-over man. But if he bowls as well as he did last night, then he'll come into effect more throughout the tournament."
Tim Southee was rested with a niggly pectoral injury and remained the side's No 1 death bowler, Taylor said, while Jacob Oram (0-27 off four) did the job alongside Franklin after India were cruising, needing 49 off 42 balls with eight wickets standing.
Mills took 2-17 off three before he was knocked out by McCullum's elbow as both players attempted the same catch amid deafening noise in the 12th over. Mills was led off with concussion but awoke healthy and was likely to be considered for Saturday's warmup game against Australia. "It was pretty scary but they are both OK, nursing some bruises but nothing serious," Taylor said.
McCullum hit form at the right time, blasting 91 off 55 balls in New Zealand's 167-5 after Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill fell to loose shots in the first nine balls.
New Zealand face Australia, then South Africa on Monday, in Colombo warmup games before their tournament opener against Bangladesh in Pallekele next Friday.
The top 11 looks straightforward, with Southee expected to be fit to replace Adam Milne, and spinner Nathan McCullum, who remained at home for the birth of his second child, returning for Ronnie Hira.
Taylor was unhappy with the fielding in Chennai, where 15 to 20 too many runs were conceded. But the win was a big confidence booster after a tough tour, and extended their record to 4-0 against India in Twenty20 internationals. Would it make them a genuine title hope in Sri Lanka?
“You should always believe that. But our main focus is on the first two games and getting through to the next round. You can look too far ahead when it comes to World Cups. We are in the toughest pool in the competition."
They need to beat either group D rivals Bangladesh or Pakistan to progress to the Super Eights.
- The Dominion Post
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