Fielding prowess might prove the Black Caps' point of difference as the attempt to progress out of Group 1 of the Super Eights stage and into a Twenty20 World Cup semifinal.
Tomorrow night's opponent Sri Lanka, along with England and the West Indies are the other teams in Group 1 and none field as well as New Zealand can. You have to say can, rather than do, given how the Black Caps performed in the field in Sunday's 13-run loss to Pakistan.
Two catches went down, as was the case in their first match of the tournament against Bangladesh, and there was just an untidiness about everything.
But, in general terms, they are a fine fielding side, led by the outstanding Nathan McCullum.
"Fielding's very under-rated in Twenty20 cricket and I think you can swing a game by 15 or 20 runs your own way if you field well and outfield the opposition and take a couple of magic chances. That's something we're definitely going to be focused on,'' McCullum said after yesterday's team practice at the Asgiriya International Stadium in suburban Kandy.
"We pride ourselves on being a good fielding unit and I'm hopeful that we can go out and express ourselves again in a couple of days' time and show why we're touted as one of the No. 1 fielding sides in the world.''
The other place where runs can potentially be picked up in New Zealand's Super Eight games, which are all at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, is by batting first. Five international Twenty20 matches have now been played at Pallekele, including the Black Caps' two preliminary games against Bangladesh and Pakistan, and each has been won by the side who batted first.
"It's hard with such a small sample...but the wicket definitely slowed up towards the end of our bowling innings [against Pakistan] and then it definitely slowed up more and more as our batting innings went on,'' said McCullum.
"So I think that it's something to be aware of. It may be a 10 or 15-run swing when you're batting first sometimes.
"You have to look at stats of grounds, and oppositions, and see how they stack up and whether they stack up in your favour or not. In some ways, hopefully Ross [captain Ross Taylor] wins the toss [against Sri Lanka] and gets that decision and we'll keep that trend going.''
Despite being in what Black Caps coach Mike Hesson has described as "the form of his life'', McCullum's brother Brendon spent a huge amount of time in the nets at Asgiriya yesterday. Having been the first in to bat, he finished as the last, going in a second time to keep working at his game.
He hit the ball miles too and will no doubt be wanting to do that for real tomorrow night.
Martin Guptill again played a limited role in proceedings, as he attempts to get over a hamstring strain. He did some walking and then light running, before having a net against the bowling machine set up by the groundstaff.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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