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Banking on Bond and the rest

cricket Updated: Apr 03, 2007 16:13 IST
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New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming believes Peter Fulton is ideally placed to fill the gap left by injured Lou Vincent when the Black Caps begin their Super Eight campaign against West Indies on Thursday.

Opening bat Vincent’s World Cup ended on Sunday when his wrist was broken while batting in the nets by a delivery from Shane Bond. Fulton, normally a middle-order batsman, will now open alongside Fleming.

He has played in just one match here, scoring 47 in the Black Caps’ 114-run victory over Canada last Thursday. But the 28-year-old, whose only previous experience of opening at this level saw him score nine on debut against Bangladesh in November 2004, has been in fine form of late.

His last five ODI innings have featured three fifties and Fleming said: “Pete is a different type of player and, if anything, his form is outstanding. To leave him out of the first couple of games was incredibly difficult. The positive is he gets a chance, and a consistent chance, to bat in one spot for a while. “Pete’s played up and down the order knowing he was going to be a utility batter,” Fleming explained of Fulton, who averages over 35 in his 29 ODIs.

New Zealand are also set to be without Ross Taylor, who sustained a hamstring injury against Kenya, although the talented shot-maker is still with the squad. “It’s been a dramatic week with Lou going and Rossco working hard on getting back, it has changed the balance of the side,” Fleming said. “But the core is still there and the bonus has been we’ve had six days to adjust — it hasn’t been thrown on us the day before a game, so we’ve been able to prepare for it. The best thing is the (first-choice) bowlers are still intact, they’ve been the usual suspects,” he explained.

New Zealand have drafted in Hamish Marshall as an additional batsman and he is now set to face the West Indies in the absence of both Vincent and Taylor. “It’s going to be a big challenge for Hamish and certainly the team realises that. We’ll do everything possible to make sure he’s ready to go,” Fleming insisted.

West Indies are set to play three days in a row after their match against Australia, at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Tuesday, was carried over into Wednesday’s reserve day because of rain.