Chennai, Feb 18 (IANS) New Zealand will be keeping a sharp eye on Kenya whom they meet here Sunday in their opening Cricket World Cup fixture, as the match provides the Kiwis an opportunity to bounce back from the mauling India gave them in the warm-up game earlier this week.
Opening batsman Martin Guptill said as much when he interacted with the media persons here Friday while admitting that Kenya, surprise semi-finalists in 2003, would pose a challenge especially if spinner Nathan McCullum is unavailable. He was hospitalised Thursday, but likely to be discharged Saturday.
“We don’t know a lot about them (Kenyans). We are going to get some footage of them and see how they had gone in the practice games,” Guptill said.
“We are not taking them lightly. They are going to be determined to put up some good performances against Test playing nations. They are going to come up very determined and very hard against us.”
Referring to the 117-run defeat to India in the warm-up game at this very venue, Guptill admitted that the team’s confidence had taken a big blow and the need was to perform as a unit.
“There was a little bit of lost confidence. I am sure we can bounce back from there. We need to put a good performance and work as a unit. We are looking forward to the first game,” he said before heading out for a training session.
Guptill pointed out that the pitch could play a decisive role in the outcome of the match as it afforded some turn and bounce.
“It is a big challenge over here. The other night, it turned and bounced a lot which we are not used to. We have got to come up with a game plan. Get off swiftly and keep rotating the strike. If we do that we are going to be successful,” he said.
Likewise, the Kiwi batsmen needed to factor in the spinners too in terms of handling as they stood exposed against the Indians.
“We have always struggled a bit. We have to keep learning to be able to play the spin as it turns and bounces. We are working on it. It is a big thing for us,” he said.
About the New Zealand spin attack, Guptill opined that skipper and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori had good support from Nathan McCullum and rookie Luke Woodcock.
“Nathan has done a very good job for us in short time with the team. He is improving with every game he plays. The other night (against India), he got a bit wayward. That’s how cricket goes. He is going to bounce back hard.”
“And we got Luke as well. On his debut match back home, he bowled really well against Pakistan with an economy rate of four an over. He had a very good start to his career.”