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Bruised Kiwis aim high

cricket Updated: Mar 17, 2011 00:03 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The newly fixed bucket seats in the Wankhede stadium suffered a few dents as proof of New Zealand's net session - their first since Sunday's convincing win over Canada.

Every batsman taking guard was happy to send the practice bowlers and teammates into the stands; the likes of Ross Taylor, James Franklin and Brendon McCullum even threatened to hit the ball out of the stadium.

The confidence in the New Zealand squad is understandable given their convincing victories and the form of their lower order batsmen. On the surface everything looks primed for the decisive push to clinch what will be their maiden World Cup crown.

Injury Woes
But the Black Caps are aware of the injury crisis that could hurt them at the business end of the tournament. Captain Daniel Vettori, who injured his knee during the match against Pakistan almost a fortnight ago, hasn't recovered completely while speedster Kyle Mills limped off with a strained left thigh after bowling just two overs against Canada.

Even wicket-keeper batsman Brendon McCullum has been playing with knee brace, but he has made it clear he is confident his knee would hold up until the end of the World Cup campaign. However, he removed the wicket keeping gloves in the latter half of the Canada game on Sunday. But he had a long net session on Wednesday and even did his wicket keeping practice.

Vettori to miss
But Vettori and Mills, who came to the ground on Wednesday, preferred the air-conditioned comfort of the dressing room to the hot conditions outside, after they had done a few minutes of stretching. The Kiwi skipper is set to sit out his second game in a row.

"Their injuries are coming along well. We are looking for both of them to be fit for the quarterfinals," said Ross Taylor, who would lead the Black Caps against Sri Lanka on Friday.
New Zealand selectors have announced medium pacer Darryl Tuffey will join the squad as a backup for Mills. But the team wants to give both players enough time to recover given their importance. While Vettori has been the go-to guy as captain and bowler for Zealand, Mills has been their best bowler so far in this World Cup.

"They are our first 11 players and will automatically walk in whenever they are fit," said Taylor. But even he is keeping his fingers crossed.