ICC Cricket World Cup: New Zealand put top side out against Afghanistan
New Zealand have afforded Afghanistan the same respect they showed Australia for Sunday`s World Cup game in Napier, resisting the temptation to tinker with their line up after winning their first four matches.
Napier: New Zealand have afforded Afghanistan the same respect they showed Australia for Sunday`s World Cup game in Napier, resisting the temptation to tinker with their line up after winning their first four matches.
"The nature of the games we`ve had over the last little while haven`t been overly taxing in terms of the physical demands," captain Brendon McCullum said of the decision not to rest any players.
New Zealand, who have already made sure of a quarter-final spot, bowled out fellow Pool A heavyweights Australia for 151 inside 33 overs last week and took only 23 overs to chase down the target, albeit for the loss of nine wickets.
Tom Latham and Kyle Mills have since had excessive net time leading to speculation they could replace Corey Anderson and Adam Milne, with Nathan McCullum and Mitch McClenaghan playing the following game against Bangladesh.
But when the New Zealand selectors weighed up whether to play any of the four so-far unrequired squad members against Afghanistan they opted instead to stay with the same line up that is on a winning streak.
"We have settled on this as our number one XI at this point in time," McCullum said, indicating the same line up, if they stay fit, may play the entire tournament.
"But, I`m confident if injuries do come about in games to come we`ve got the experience and the personnel on the sidelines who are able to step up and perform a role given to them."
McCullum also warned against the possibility of complacency sneaking into the side, and although Afghanistan are making their World Cup debut he said they could not be taken lightly.
The New Zealand captain, with a reputation for feasting on quick bowlers, made special mention of his respect for Afghanistan`s seam trio Shapoor Zadran, Hamid Hassan and Dawlat Zadran.
"Their bowling looks quite strong, I think it`s fair to say it`s probably their strongest suit. They`ve got three guys who bowl in excess of 140 (kmh/87mph) and have asked some questions of some very good teams," McCullum said.
"We think they certainly pose some dangers to us and we`re going to make sure we`re as up for this game as we have been for previous ones."
Napier`s McLean Park wicket is renowned as a batting surface and McCullum said if he wins the toss he will bat first.
With New Zealand`s bowling attack spearheaded by Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Dan Vettori performing so effectively, batting first offers the safest opportunity to give much needed crease time to Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi.
Both John Buchanan, who coached Australia to two World cups, and former South African bowler Sean Pollock have singled out batting as possibly New Zealand`s weakness.
But McCullum said it had to be taken in context with his side`s established aggressive approach with the ball.
"The nature of how we`ve played games of late, and the fact we`ve had success bowling first has obviously meant our batting hasn`t been as challenged as other teams in the competition," he said.
"We`ll never know until we get into those situations, but I`m confident the guys we`ve got in the group are very good players under pressure and we`ll see over the coming weeks how we stand up."