New Zealand staying under the radar

New Zealand's World T20 opener against Scotland at the Oval promises to be a low key affair - and that is, you suspect, just the way the Black Caps want it

updated: June 06, 2009 07:12 IST
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New Zealand's World Twenty20 opener against Scotland at the Oval on Saturday promises to be a low key affair - and that is, you suspect, just the way the Black Caps want it.

For years now in one-day cricket New Zealand have punched above their weight and their quality was on show this week when they beat defending World Twenty20 champions India by nine runs in a warm-up match at Lord's.

India's subsequent nine-wicket thrashing of Pakistan in another warm-up at the Oval meant the impact of the New Zealand loss was not felt for too long back home in the sub-continent.

But it was a reminder of the heights the Black Caps can reach.

In wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum they have one of the most dynamic batsmen in world cricket and a worthy successor to the likes of Craig McMillan and Nathan Astle.

Jesse Ryder is also a batsman that can make bowlers look stupid and while the absence of Shane Bond robs them of a genuine quick, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori remains arguably world cricket's pre-eminent left-arm spinner in all forms of the game.

He took three for 24 in the recent victory over India and Vettori relishes a Twenty20 format which, on paper at least, looks to be tilted heavily in favour of batsmen.

"In Twenty20, you are not going to second-guess yourself," said Vettori.

"The batsman is going to attack you, most spin bowlers realise that, and if they attack too much you create chances and you find even part-time spinners in the Indian Premier League being highly successful."

New Zealand though are vulnerable to top order collapse - as happened in their warm-up loss to Australia - but on the flip side they do bat a long way down with reserve keeper Peter McGlashan making an impressive 49 as a No 7 against Ricky Ponting's men.

Of all the three Associate or junior nations taking part in this tournament (Ireland and the Netherlands are the other two), Scotland look least equipped to cause an upset.

It is now a decade since their captain Gavin Hamilton won his one and only Test cap for England while the squad suffered disruption during the warm-up series when former county bowler John Blain quit after a row with his skipper.

Having failed to qualify for the 2011 World Cup in Asia, a major blow to their morale, Scotland will be desperate to show in some way that they are deserving of a place on the big stage.

But a seven-wicket loss to the Netherlands in a warm-up confirmed the extent of the challenge facing Hamilton's men who, a day earlier, had threatened to embarrass England before Kevin Pietersen took that match away from them.

"We wanted to play decent cricket but we were miles off the mark," said Hamilton of the Dutch defeat.

"There's no excuse whatsoever for what was a lacklustre performance. The disappointing thing was that we made the same mistakes - there were far too many dot balls."


New Zealand (from): Daniel Vettori (capt), Neil Broom, Ian Butler, Brendon Diamanti, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (wkt), Nathan McCullum, Peter McGlashan, Kyle Mills, Iain O'Brien, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor

Scotland (from): Gavin Hamilton (capt), Richie Berrington, Calum MacLeod, Kyle Coetzer, Gordon Drummond, Majid Haq, Neil McCallum, Dewald Nel, Navdeep Poonia, Glenn Rogers, Colin Smith (wkt), Jan Stander, Ryan Watson, Fraser Watts, Craig Wright

Pitch: Even paced batting surface should also assist spinners

Start: 0900GMT

Umpires: Daryl Harper (AUS) and Billy Doctrove (WIS)

TV umpire: Rudi Koertzen (RSA)

Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)