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In absence of Vettori, focus on offie Nathan

During New Zealand's short trip to Sri Lanka, in the World Cup, for a game against Pakistan, off-spinner Nathan McCullum spent about five minutes with Muttiah Muralitharan's mentor, Sunil Fernando, to understand the nuances of off-spin bowling.

cricket Updated: Mar 18, 2011 01:47 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

During New Zealand's short trip to Sri Lanka, in the World Cup, for a game against Pakistan, off-spinner Nathan McCullum spent about five minutes with Muttiah Muralitharan's mentor, Sunil Fernando, to understand the nuances of off-spin bowling.

It was an exercise in self-improvement for the 30-year-old, who has always played second fiddle to left-arm spinner and captain Daniel Vettori.

During the brief session, McCullum would not have thought that he'd have to relinquish his role of a containing bowler anytime sooner. But a freak knee injury to Vettori against Pakistan has thrust upon him the responsibility of a lead spinner.

"I don't think my role will change drastically. Earlier, my role was to not give more than 40-45 runs in my 10 overs. But now I need to be more aware of my responsibilities and try and take some wickets," said McCullum, who has conceded 80 runs and taken two wickets in four matches so far.

McCullum has shared the new ball in two of the games and he could be given a similar responsibility on Friday.

The handy middle order batsman could also have the added responsibility of tackling Sri Lanka's pace spearhead Lasith Malinga in the death overs. He spent almost half-an-hour practicing the paddle sweep, with a member of the support staff throwing down at the block hole with a sidearm action.