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Black Caps take on focussed Lankans

The Black Caps open the competition against Sri Lanka in Providence on Friday and, with warm-up matches suggesting pitches will take spin, off-break bowler Nathan is set for some key overs in an attack where New Zealand captain and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori has been the mainstay for several years now. T20 WC Schedule

cricket Updated: Apr 30, 2010 16:51 IST

Brendon McCullum’s prowess as a Twenty20 batsman is well known but older brother Nathan could also have an important role to play in the upcoming World Twenty20.

The Black Caps open the competition against Sri Lanka in Providence on Friday and, with warm-up matches suggesting pitches will take spin, off-break bowler Nathan is set for some key overs in an attack where New Zealand captain and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori has been the mainstay for several years now.

McCullum was given the new ball in New Zealand’s 40-run warm-up win over Ireland here on Tuesday, reviving memories of Martin Crowe’s ploy of using off-spinner Dipak Patel at the start of the innings at the 1992 World Cup - a tactic that helped the Black Caps get to the last four of that event.

Against Ireland, McCullum took three wickets for 25 runs and Vettori, who went wicketless, said: “Nathan McCullum was outstanding with the ball. On a wicket like that you’ve got to be inch perfect because it’s so slow.”

The Black Caps’ pace attack is led by Shane Bond and Kiwi fans will be hoping that he can come through this tournament unscathed.

New Zealand headed to the Caribbean with major fitness doubts over several senior players but batsman Jesse Ryder suggested he was over the groin strain that forced his withdrawal from the Indian Premier League with a quick-fire 64 against the Irish.

Together with Brendon McCullum he forms an explosive opening partnership with McCullum posting an unbeaten 116.

McCullum is one of the most dangerous batsmen around in this format and Vettori was in no doubt of his value to New Zealand.

West Indies look to Gayle-force Ireland

West Indies captain Chris Gayle struck Australia fast bowler Brett Lee for 27 runs in one over at last year’s World Twenty20 so Ireland’s attack could be forgiven for fearing the worst.

Hosts West Indies face Ireland, looking for yet more giantkilling success, on the first day of this year’s World Twenty20 here on Friday.

One consolation for Ireland is that the form of the West Indies in general and Gayle in particular is far from consistent. But if Gayle, whose 117 against South Africa in the 2007 edition remains the only century at a World Twenty20, does find his form then Ireland’s bowlers will be hard pressed.

Ireland are coached by a former West Indies batsman in Phil Simmons and he reckons the compressed nature of Twenty20 makes upsets more likely.

“I think it's easier to pull off a shock in Twenty20 because recovery time is less than in 50 overs,” said Simmons.

“We have played that little bit more Twenty20 than we had going into the last World Cup - so we are slightly wiser about Twenty20 cricket.”
T20 WC Schedule