Good start key for Black Caps at World Cup

HAMISH BIDWELL AND SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 16/03/2014
Brendon McCullum
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ
BLACK CAPS SKIPPER: Brendon McCullum.

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The Black Caps will need to be quick out of the gates, and adapt quickly to the conditions if they are to progress at the World Twenty20 tournament.

Captain Brendon McCullum told a media conference in Bangladesh yesterday that although the team was full of confidence after their winning summer, they could kiss their chances at the tournament goodbye if they didn't start well.

"Starting well is going to be a key for us, adapting to the conditions. If we do that then we have got the personnel and match winners within our team to give it a good shake.

"I think you have seen at home how formidable we are becoming. Away from home we have still got a lot of challenges and a lot of fences to climb to be a consistent touring team."

Black Caps coach Mike Hesson has already stated it will take three wins from their four pool matches if the team are to advance from group. The Black Caps are grouped with Sri Lanka, South Africa, England and a yet-to-be-named associate nation.

Only two teams can go through from each group and you'd have to say New Zealand rank third, at best, in Group One.

England are the Black Caps' first-up opponent and will come to Chittagong's Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, having been thoroughly softened up by the West Indies. The game starts at 2.30am (NZT) next Sunday morning.

McCullum said Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham would be key players for the Black Caps.

"Corey in his very brief time in international cricket so far has shown how devastating he can be with the bat . . . for a young guy I have asked a lot of him and, barring probably one time, he has nailed it for us. He is an incredible talent and is a huge part of our side.

"Jimmy Neesham is also a very dangerous player who brings a great skill set to this form of the game. Both those guys are match winners."

The skipper also said he was feeling confident with his own form.

"This is a big tournament for us and for me as captain, and as a batter, and to go out there and really perform.

"The nature of T20 if you get some momentum and confidence quickly . . . every team has the chance of being there at the business end of it."

Both Sri Lanka and South Africa represent a formidable threat to the Black Caps.

For the Proteas, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and even Albie Morkel at the death can all hurt bowlers badly, while Sri Lanka are similarly blessed with talent.

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Good luck picking the two teams which will emerge from Group Two, in which Australia, India, Pakistan and the West Indies all have the ability to progress.

The Black Caps haven't had the best build up. India's Asia Cup commitments robbed them of the kind of match play everyone else has enjoyed coming into this tournament.

Friendlies in the Middle East against English county teams and intra-squad games hardly suffice, so New Zealand will to need to get plenty from their two warm-up matches against Pakistan in Dhaka tomorrow night, and then against Australia on Wednesday.

GAME TIMES BLACK CAPS AT T20 WORLD CUP IN BANGLADESH (NZT) March 23: v England 2.30am March 24: v South Africa 10.30pm March 29: v Qualifier 10.30pm April 1: v Sri Lanka 2.30am April 4 and 5: Semifinals April 7: Final TBA.

- Sunday Star Times

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