Mumbai: Having assured themselves of a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, New Zealand will go into Friday`s match against Sri Lanka with the aim to finish in top-two of group `A`, off-spinner Nathan McCullum said on Thursday.
"We can go on to win tomorrow`s game and finish in the top two. That`s obviously our target and not who we are playing against in the quarter-finals. (We are) excited to make it to the quarter-finals. But our job`s not done.”
"We have got a very important match tomorrow. It would be great to win that game and finish in the top two of this group and make it easy (for ourselves) moving forward in the quarter-finals," he told reporters at the Wankhede Stadium.
McCullum said the induction of former Kiwi batsman John Wright and former South speedster Allan Donald into the coaching staff has helped the team overcome the thrashing it received in the sub-continent from Bangladesh and India, and at home from Pakistan.
"There is always going to be cultural changes with a difference in personnel. There are a couple fresh voices but experienced voices that we have been able to tap into.. they have international experience of playing and coaching as well.”
"It has allowed us to put things behind us on what happened in the past few months but also helped us learn from that experience as well," said McCullum who is a handy lower-order batsman.
The 30-year-old brother of wicket keeper Brendon said that though there have not been any major upsets in Group `A`, the cricket will get more exciting in the later stages of the tournament.
"The quality of teams around at the moment, any team can beat anyone. I`m sure that as the tournament goes on there will be many things to talks about and many such results." McCullum said even in the absence of skipper and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, his role with the ball as the primary spinner won`t change that much.
"I don`t think my role changes at all. I guess I would have to be more consistent and more aware that I have to perform my role to the full. We are losing players like Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills.”
“(It) just means that we have to play well with the more experienced guys and, even the younger guys have to stand up and perform their role well. My role in this team is to work hard and try and go for 40-45 runs in my 10 overs and If I pick up one or two wickets it will do, especially with my role with the bat as well," said the spinner who has played 24 ODIs and taken 15 wickets.
Stating that the small size of Wankhede stadium won`t be a concern for him being a spinner, McCullum felt the track may assist the slow bowlers a little bit.
"In comparison to some grounds in New Zealand it`s not that short. It may slow off a little bit. Given the heat and overnight conditions it may play true again. It may assist us a little bit. I`m excited at playing at this ground again. Good to play at a place which we know about a little bit. We know a little about the dimensions. It`s exciting and we are looking forward to it," he said.
McCullum said he would, at some stage, like to meet spinners like Muttiah Muralitharan and Harbhajan Singh for an interaction.
"I`d like to sit down with people like Murali and Harbhajan and talk to them about how they went in getting it (the doosra) in their repertoire. But at the moment I`m
focussed at just winning games for New Zealand. I bowl a different type of delivery. It`s not a doosra but it’s something else. It`s like work in progress.”
"Me and Dan (Daniel Vettori) are working on something in the past few years. But I`m sure there will be opportunities to talk to these people," he added.