New Zealand meet Zimbabwe in crucial tie at Motera
Ahmedabad: New Zealand would be aiming to put behind the disappointment of a crushing loss to Australia and return to winning ways when they take on minnows Zimbabwe in a Group A tie in the cricket World Cup.
Both the teams are aware that a victory would go a long way in enhancing their chances of making the quarterfinal from a group which has holders Australia, co-hosts Sri Lanka and the unpredictable Pakistan.
The Kiwis, who lost to Australia just three days after a devastating earthquake struck the city of Christchurch to leave a trail of destruction, appear to hold a slight edge over the Africans.
New Zealand have not been beaten in five meetings between the two teams in the tournament in the past, with four wins to their credit.
One meeting ended in a no result and their overall record too against Zimbabwe, 19 wins from 28 head-to-head contests with one tie and one no result, is better.
The return to fitness of strike bowler Kyle Mills has also bolstered the Kiwis who had opened their campaign with a thumping 10-wicket victory over minnows Kenya on February 20 before being over-run by seven wickets by the Aussies on February 25.
It was the Australian pace attack that unsettled the Kiwi batsmen and but against Zimbabwe it would be not be pace but a four-pronged spin attack that would confront the Kiwis who, at the best of times, are vulnerable against the slow bowlers in this part of the world.
Skipper Vettori is aware of the challenge his batsmen face in the match.
"Yes, it`s an important game for us. This is a must-win game for us on where we go in the tournament. Zimbabwe have played pretty well. It`s going to be a difficult game and a strong challenge for us. We have seen a different set of tactics. Against Australia it was pace, we would see a lot of spin in this game," he said ahead of the match.
With tougher challenges coming up against Pakistan (at Pallekelle stadium in Kandy on March 8) and Sri Lanka (at Mumbai`s Wankhede Stadium on March 18), New Zealand are eager to clinch the tie against Zimbabwe by taking on the spin challenge head-on.
"We are prepared for what they (Zimbabwe) have got, a variety of spinners. We have to be up for the challenge. Going through to a tournament plan for the World Cup, you see so many different varieties of attack. This is just another one. For us to progress, we need to play well here," said Vettori.