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Kiwi skipper defends decision to rest Bond

"Kaif won the match for India with a superb innings," said Fleming. Number Games | Which side is superior?

india Updated: Sep 03, 2005 03:14 IST

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming defended his decision to rest bowlers Shane Bond and Daniel Vettori for the six-wicket defeat by India in the fifth game of the triangular One-Day series in Harare on Friday.

Fast bowler Bond, who took six for 19 against India in Bulawayo last week, and spinner Vettori missed the game as India reached their target of 279 with 15 balls to spare.

"We had 20 overs without our top strike bowlers and it's a real positive we have 20 overs in the wings for the final," said Fleming in a reference to Tuesday's title decider against India.

"We decided not to play Shane today because he has an advantage over them having gone through their top-order. He's in a different league altogether and, unless you get used to facing him, you're going to be anxious about batting against him.

"We denied India that opportunity today and keeping Shane fresh is the key.

"Daniel was the key bowler who needed a rest, he's a bit sore. But he's a quality bowler, the best left-arm finger spinner around," Fleming told a news conference.

The Kiwi skipper praised India batsmen Mohammad Kaif (102 not out) and Virender Sehwag (45).

"Kaif won the match for them with a superb innings and Sehwag got them off to a flyer," said Fleming.

"It took us a while to drag it back and we couldn't get wickets to peg them back."

Move Up

India coach Greg Chappell praised Kaif for making the most of his move up the batting order to number three.

"He worked very hard in Sri Lanka and here and now he's got his reward," said Australian Chappell.

"We needed someone to make a hundred today and it was a quality innings."

Kaif, whose only other century in one-day internationals came 76 matches ago, was pleased to move up the order.

"Batting at number six or seven, there's not much opportunity to score hundreds, especially on the flat pitches of the sub-continent where you don't lose many wickets," said Kaif.

"I love to have more overs to bat because then I can build my innings."

Fleming said New Zealand had two injury worries ahead of the final after all rounders Chris Cairns and Jacob Oram suffered hamstring strains.

"It's probably tour over for Chris Cairns but Jacob was just a bit stiff so I took him off as a precaution," said Fleming.

"He'll get treatment and hopefully be in contention for the final."

The triangular series also involves Zimbabwe.

First Published: Sep 03, 2005 02:41 IST