NZ focusing on qualifying, not net run rate: Taylor

Last Updated: Mar 12, 2011, 17:39 PM IST

Mumbai: New Zealand are focusing only on winning their last two league games to advance into the next stage of the World Cup and not thinking about what the net run rate should be or who their quarterfinal opponents could be, said stand-in skipper Ross Taylor here on Saturday.

"Net Run Rate may play a part, but the focus is to win the next two games, whether chasing or batting first. We don`t want to look at net run rate just yet," said Taylor, who will be leading the Kiwis on Sunday in their penultimate league game against Canada at the refurbished Wankhede Stadium here.

"Whoever you play in the quarterfinals or the semifinals, the scenario is going to be tough. Obviously, facing India at home is always tough," he explained when asked if the team was mulling over who their quarterfinal opponents would be.

The Kiwis are strongly poised to advance to the next stage as they just need a victory over Canada, who they have beaten in two previous Cup clashes, to leapfrog Sri Lanka and go to the top of the pool, besides making it to the knockout stage of the competition.

Taylor, whose blazing unbeaten 131 pulled the rug under Pakistan`s feet in their previous clash in Sri Lanka`s Pellekele Stadium in Kandy, felt if they can put Canada under early pressure, the North American team would crumble.

"They are a solid side. In the last two World Cups, they have played well against us and will try to take confidence from it.”

"But we know that if we can put the so called minnows under pressure early on, we can try to dominate from there. But we have to try and restrict them. We know the result should be a win," said the Wellington-born elegant middle order batsman.

The 27-year-old conceded that he was lucky to have been dropped twice (by Pakistan stumper Kamran Akmal) early in his innings off Shoaib Akhtar`s bowling in a league game against Pakistan, before he went hammer and tongs at the rival attack to help New Zealand add 114 in the last six overs.

"The start of my knock was very lucky. The confidence has been very high in the team and we saw that in the game. I have struggled for a couple of months. In Nagpur (against Australia) was in some nick (when he made seven). Was trying not to be over-confident (against Pakistan)," he said.

Taylor said he wanted to lead the team from the front on Sunday with his batting exploit and would be aiming for a victory.

"As captain I would like to lead from the front and hope I can do that with the bat. I have done that a few times and enjoyed some success. It`s nice to captain your country in the World Cup. But the main aim tomorrow is to win the game," he
said. Taylor said either speedster Hamish Bennett or Luke Woodcock would take Vettori`s place in the playing eleven.

"We still haven`t decided on the side. Luke Woodcock and Hamish Bennet are probably the two favorites to replace Dan. We would see how the wicket is tomorrow before taking a call." Taylor, meanwhile, dismissed worries about the fitness of hard-hitting opener and wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum.

"Brendon is fine, He`s trying to take as much time on his knee. He had a good long hit at the nets. He will be 100 per cent fit tomorrow," Taylor said.

Like teammate and opener Martin Guptill, Taylor also saw bowling coach Allan Donald`s inputs as crucial to the bowlers` improved display in the tournament.

"Allan`s been great, brought a very professional work ethic to the side. He explored an area that we haven`t been able to be consistent and that`s reverse swing.”

"In the sub-continent, the ball reverses a lot more and the breaking wickets aid it more. He`s been able to explore different variations with the ball and its been showing in the last two games," he said.

"Hopefully, he can continue to have the same affect on the bowlers," he added.

PTI