Black Caps fall just short in final warm-up
New Zealand are expecting to have a full complement of 15 players available for Friday's Twenty20 World Cup cricket opener against Bangladesh despite struggling to field a side in their final warmup match.
New Zealand only had 11 fit and well players for the match against South Africa in Colombo, Sri Lanka, overnight (NZT), just three days out from the Bangladesh fixture in Kandy.
Bowlers Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee were among several players with a stomach bug, and the pair had to remain at the team's hotel as South Africa scored a nine-run victory.
Among those feeling unwell was Kyle Mills, who is also still recovering from injuries to his head sustained after a clash with Brendon McCullum during a match against India last week.
McCullum's elbow injury, also a result of that clash, prevented him from wicket-keeping against South Africa, but he was able to bat, with BJ Watling taking the gloves.
The injury-prone allrounder Jacob Oram was not fit. Such was New Zealand's lack of playing resources, outgoing bowling coach Damien Wright had to take the field against South Africa as a substitute fielder.
However, New Zealand are confident all 15 players will be available for Bangladesh.
''Dan and Timmy falling ill, maybe they were eating at the same place, I'm not sure what it was, but it's part and parcel of this part of the world,'' said captain Ross Taylor.
''Hopefully we've got it out of the way now.''
Chasing 186 for victory, New Zealand fell 10 runs short at 177 for eight, a significant improvement on their showing against Australia on Saturday, when they were dismissed for a dismal 83 chasing 140.
The chase was led by a spectacular innings from Taylor, who blasted 75 from 42 balls, including seven sixes.
He received good support from Rob Nicol, who scored 37 from 36 batting at No 5, with James Franklin having been promoted to open alongside Martin Guptill.
It was a move that could be replicated at the World Cup, with Taylor saying they would continue to adopt a ''flexible'' approach to the batting lineup.
New Zealand were behind the run-rate from the outset and 13 runs an over were required from the last seven, but Taylor teed off to give it a good nudge.
''Twenty20 can be pretty hit and miss but it was nice to get a few in the middle, but it's only a warm-up game,'' Taylor said. ''We don't want to get too carried away, but hopefully I can take this confidence into the World Cup.''
Paceman Dale Steyn finished with 4-25 from four overs for South Africa, whose 186-6 featured a 30-ball 54 from AB De Villiers.
For the second match in succession, young pace bowler Adam Milne had New Zealand's best bowling figures, taking 2-26 from four.
New Zealand travel inland to Kandy tomorrow ahead of their match against Bangladesh on Friday (NZT).
''The whole squad has had a game now in these warm-ups so we're looking forward to the start of the World Cup,'' Taylor said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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