Friday, February 4, 2011

World Cup chances look dim for kiwis compare than other teams

New Zealand Players are worrying about them Performance 
What chance New Zealand's hopes of an eye-catching run at this month's World Cup?

Frankly you wouldn't give them a prayer on the evidence of the last three months.

They look fragile, soft in the mind and unable to put together a decent batting and bowling display within the same seven-hour period.

The squad fly out to the sub-continent on Tuesday.

At that point, depending on the outcome of the final Pakistan ODI at Eden Park today, they'll either have won two of their last 16 50-over games, or one.

If one half of their game is solid, the other is a dud.

In Hamilton on Thursday, the bowlers did a reasonable job, restricting Pakistan to 268 for nine. But the batsmen botched a highly gettable target. "Confidence is low and we have got to look within," stand-in captain Ross Taylor said.

"We can't look anywhere else. We've said this over and over: winning is a habit and at the moment we're getting ourselves into good positions but just not capitalising.

"I don't think we're far away. We keep losing wickets at crucial times, whether with brain explosions or what."

It has to be said when New Zealand's batsmen have a shortwiring in the brain it's a corker.

Most recent evidence? Scott Styris' two run outs in the last two games; Jesse Ryder's first-ball run out in Hamilton; Jamie How out playing the same shot, caught in the same area in his last three innings. That'll do for starters.

The New Zealand players spent an hour and a half in their Seddon Park changing room on Thursday night. Management was excluded. Hard talking was done.

"There was a lot said and that's going to stay within the changing room," senior allrounder Jacob Oram said yesterday.

"But it's basically about guys doing their jobs, not looking for excuses or explanations and just winning matches for New Zealand."

Things have been going wrong "too often for it to just be a coincidence", he added.

Some arguments were forceful, "but we needed to get a lot of things out in the open".

"There was some serious honesty, but it will mean nothing if we don't win tomorrow and go on to do well at the World Cup.

"It will just be another chat that we've had. We've got to make sure it means something," he said.

It's a moot point whether a win at Eden Park today will necessarily indicate a corner has been turned.

Pakistan could be forgiven for taking the foot off the accelerator. They've won the last three ODIs. The series is theirs, to go with the two-test rubber.

Coach Waqar Younis said the tourists might look to use a couple of players who haven't had a chance earlier in the series, such as spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman and young batsman Asad Shafiq. Then again ...

"We'd like to give them a bit of a chance, maybe. The aim is to win the next game and go on a wining note.

"It's important to keep the momentum going and make sure when we go to the World Cup we are nice and ready," he said.

New Zealand captain Dan Vettori is out, with the hamstring he tweaked at Napier on Tuesday necessitating sitting out a second consecutive game.

But New Zealand's problems are far deeper than whether the skipper plays or not, although his absence stymies the idea of fielding the first choice XI even once in the five games against Pakistan (the sixth was washed out).

Tim Southee returns, at the expense of Hamish Bennett. Jamie How is also dropped, his carbon copy mode of dismissal wearing thin.

Either Luke Woodcock or Kane Williamson will be omitted this morning.

Brendon McCullum could be bumped up to No 3 in the order today, which would be an acknowledgment that, for a range of reasons, trialling him in the middle order hasn't worked.

Right now, it has a feel of a deckchair rearrangement.

A win today will help.

They all do, but it won't suddenly shove all the dark clouds over the horizon.

6th ODI Between NZ v Pakistan - Eden Park, noon today

New Zealand (from) Ross Taylor (c) Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson, Scott Styris, Brendon McCullum, James Franklin, Nathan McCullum, Jacob Oram, Luke Woodcock, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee.

Pakistan (from) Shahid Afridi (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar.


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