ICC Cricket World Cup, 2014/15 news from ESPN

Thursday, March 12, 2015

McCullum wary of Bangladesh's pacers

Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, singled out Bangladesh's pace attack as the real challenge for his batsmen ahead of their 2015 World Cup Pool A clash in Hamilton on Friday (March 13).

The Bangladesh pacers, Rubel Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza and Taskin Ahmed, took eight of the ten England wickets to fall (one more was a run out) in their famous 15-run victory in Adelaide, which sealed their place in the quarterfinals.

"I think what we saw the other night with a couple of the guys there, the threat that they pose with ball in hand for their quick bowlers is a lot more than a few years ago," said McCullum at the pre-match press conference on Thursday.

"Tomorrow's going to be tough. The quick bowlers are going to ask us some questions, especially if it juices up a little bit. But we've faced some good, quick bowlers over the last little while too."

New Zealand, having won all five of their matches in the tournament so far, will end the group stage on top of the Pool A points table irrespective of the result against Bangladesh.

McCullum, with three brisk half-centuries, including the fastest World Cup fifty, off just 18 balls, already, is expected to be targeted with spin by Mortaza's men.

“You can't get too wound up in the talk. The game is played with bat and ball, and tomorrow I guess we'll see what unfolds," McCullum pointed out. “So respectfully just wait and see what tomorrow has got to bring.”

He was also quick to disagree when asked if he felt his team was yet to be tested in the competition.

"We have been tested, and I think we've come through those tests," he said. "I think we've been tested considerably throughout the tournament, and I think we've found a way to get ourselves through those situations and it's really a pleasing aspect."

Confident that his team would make the most of the lessons from the past weeks, he added, “We've had the ability to bowl teams out in front to 200 and pretty much every opportunity we've had, we've had batters first, we've managed to get over 300. [Some] guys might be a little light on some hard game time under pressure late in a game. But it's, I guess, a byproduct of success we've been having along the way.”

He reserved special praise for Daniel Vettori, who’s taken 12 wickets in five games at a remarkable average of 11.33. “He's referred to as a bit of a wizard as well from teams over in Australia, and his art and his ability to just read a game and the ability to use a change of pace and subtle change of pace is something which I think not too many other guys around the world have such skill at. Couple years ago he was struggling for fitness, and I think what we've seen over the last few weeks is a guy who's gone away, worked incredibly hard on his fitness, and still has the drive within him to be part of the New Zealand team.”

McCullum confirmed that his teammates, including Kane Williamson, had recovered from stomach trouble and would be available for the game, but Adam Milne, who has a bruised shoulder, is likely to be replaced by Mitchell McClenaghan, the left-arm pacer, in what will be New Zealand’s first change to their XI.

The captain also backed Ross Taylor, the out-of-form batsman, to come good at some stage in the tournament. “His form is not a major concern,” he insisted. “He's been short of opportunity throughout this World Cup, just through the nature of us bowling as well as we have and obviously chasing down the runs."

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