In-form Neesham would love to front Tendulkar
Like most cricketing kids around the world, Jimmy Neesham grew up watching on fondly at the way Sachin Tendulkar went about his batting; now he think about has the prospect of playing against the Indian maestro.
Neesham, 23, has been a key figure in the Otago Volts' march to the main draw of the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in India.
The Volts won 10 on the trot on their way to winning the New Zealand competition and have won a further three in India in the qualifying stage of the Champions League.
They now eye Mumbai Indians tomorrow morning in round one in Group A of the Champions League and Neesham confesses he hopes the name Tendulkar features in the opposition lineup.
"I really hope he does play. I think it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to play against him in what will be his last big tournament. Hopefully he plays and we can get the better of him," Neesham said.
Heading from the New Zealand winter to the heat of India can be a tough adjustment but it is not the only difference Neesham and his team-mates have to get use to.
They are going about their business in a country that treats cricket more like religion than sport and the Volts have fast become aware of that.
"It's chalk and cheese from back home. We've had people coming up in restaurants asking for autographs and photos with us and at the airport as well, it's stuff you don't get back home.
"Obviously everyone is well aware of the tournament going on with people wishing us good luck on the way to play and that sort of thing. You get the feel that everyone knows what's going on," he said.
While Indian fans would have been well aware of Brendon and Nathan McCullum before the tournament started, the name Neesham may not have been well known up until the last week when he has given all a glimpse at what he can do.
In his two innings he has been dismissed just once, scoring 53 runs at a impressive strike rate of 165.
With the ball he's sent down 12 overs in the tournament, taking three wickets at an average of 30 and has a economy rate of 7.5 runs per over.
The Champions League is the ideal buildup for Neesham before he eyes a trip with the Black Caps limited-overs squad to Bangladesh.
Volts pool games
v Mumbai Indians - Tuesday 2.20am, SKY Sport 3
v Perth Scorchers - Wednesday 10.20pm, SKY Sport 1
v Highveld Lions - Sunday 11.20pm, SKY Sport 2
v Rajasthan Royals - Wednesday October 2, 3.20am, SKY Sport 3
The Southland Times