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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Minus McCullum, Kiwis counting on Guptill at World T20

Minus McCullum, Kiwis counting on Guptill at World T20

March 08, 2016 17:51 IST

'If we score runs, then we should win it. I think it's important that we adapt.'

'The space that Martin Guptill is in at the moment, we're excited as a unit going into this tournament.'

New Zealand Captain Kane Williamson, interacting with the media after the team's first practice session ahead of the World T20, says it is vital his side adjusts to the conditions in India and plays smart cricket in the tournament-opener against the hosts.

Harish Kotian/Rediff.com reports.

The New Zealand team during its game against the West Indies in last year's World Cup at Wellington. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

IMAGE: The New Zealand team during the quarter-final game against the West Indies in last year's ODI World Cup at Wellington. The game is best remembered for Martin Guptill's record 237 not out and Trent Boult's four wickets.
One name missing from New Zealand's World T20 team is the man second from left: The Awesome Brendon McCullum. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

 

New Zealand Captain Kane Williamson believes India, with several match winners in their squad and the advantage of playing in home conditions, are definitely one of the favourites at the World T20.

"India are the favourites and, considering the conditions, they will be tough to beat. There are lot of players who can win matches," Williamson declared in Mumbai on Tuesday, March 8, after New Zealand's first practice session ahead of the tournament at the Wankhede Stadium.

The Kiwis, who have never won a World title in any format, face a tough match first up against 2007 T20 champions India, who are in great form heading into the mega-event, in Nagpur on March 15.

The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team blanked Australia 3-0 and followed it up with a 2-1 series win over Sri Lanka and the just-concluded Asia Cup T20 crown.

Williamson believes it is vital that his side adjusts to the conditions in India and plays smart cricket in the tournament opener.

"If we score runs, then we should win it. I think it's important that we adapt. We have been playing some good T20 cricket, but, at the same time, you want to play smart. Over here (India), cricket can be different to, perhaps, our conditions and we are fully aware of it. It is important we prepare as best as we can going into that first game.

'Brendon was an inspiration as a leader'

Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum of New Zealand walk to the nets

IMAGE: Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum walk to the nets. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

 

"T20 cricket is pretty fickle. I think all sides are playing good cricket. We have got a tough match first up and we will be preparing as best as we can in these conditions. It would be great to get off to a good start and, hopefully, carry a bit of momentum throughout the tournament," the right-hander, who is one of the world's most exciting batsmen, said.

Williamson acknowledged the impact the now retired Brendon McCullum had on the team in the last couple of years and lamented that New Zealand will miss him, both as leader and attacking batsman at the top of the order.

"Brendon was an inspiration as a leader and as captain the way he went about his business on and off the field. He gave so much to the team while he was around and we are certainly thankful for that, for the time we had with him."

"I suppose it is a small transition losing your captain and a top order batter, but it is just part and parcel of the game we play," he said.

"He certainly led by example, but he encouraged others to do the same. I think he created a lot of leaders in the group and he is the first to say that although it was his vision and (coach) Mike Hesson's vision, the way the guys brought into it was equally important."

"We certainly saw it on the field, but the focus was very much off the field -- team culture and guys playing for one another; selfless cricketers, guys going out and committing to the situation for the benefit of the side."

'It will be a really tough tournament'

Kane Williamson of New Zealand stretches during a team training session

IMAGE: Williamson stretches during a team training session. Photograph: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

 

"I think it's important that it is continued. There is naturally a transition when you lose a player, someone of the calibre of Brendon. It's part of the game, not only as a batsman but as a leader, but it's the nature of what we do, or what anyone does. You have to finish at some time and you look to move on and build on from what we have done so well. That's the focus for us," he added.

Some of New Zealand's players in the World T20 squad, including Williamson, Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan, Ross Taylor and Tim Southee have had the experience of playing in Indian conditions, courtesy the Indian Premier League.

Williamson believes it is important that New Zealand taps into the experience of these players and educates younger team mates on how to perform in Indian conditions.

"There are a lot of guys that have played a lot of cricket and it is important that you tap into that experience to help your cause. A lot of guys have played alongside most of the other international players as well, so everyone knows each other. But it will be a really tough tournament. Every team will be expecting that, which makes way for a very exciting competition."

While Williamson reckons spin will play a key role at the World T20, he also believes that the fast bowlers have a role on the slow Indian pitches.

"Spin is likely to play a part in this tournament, but I have no doubt that pace is going to play a big part as well. We have some world class pacers in the line-up; they had little niggles, but they're all fit and looking forward to getting started," he said.

'Martin has been absolutely smashing for a quite a while now'

New Zealand's Martin Guptill

IMAGE: Martin Guptill acknowledges the cheers after another dazzling knock. Photograph: Getty Images

 

New Zealand batting sensation Martin Guptill's snub at the IPL auction last month came as a big shock to everyone, but Williamson is looking forward to the dashing batsman continuing his good run with the bat.

"It's one of those things (on Guptill not being picked at the IPL auction), but we are certainly thankful for having him in our side and playing good cricket."

"Martin has been absolutely smashing for a quite a while now. It has been huge for our side, and in the white ball format he has been leading with the bat. He scores a huge amount of runs so quickly as well and has won a lot of games for us."

"I'm hoping that he can continue that and keep playing with that freedom. T20 cricket can be quite fickle; you go out there and play aggressively and you're going to get out every now and then or pretty much every time, but hopefully you do a bit of damage before that point."

"The space that Martin is in at the moment, we're excited as a unit going into this tournament."

Harish Kotian / Rediff.com