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Zimbabwe presents a big challenge for us: Vettori

G. Viswanath

Ahmedabad: Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, and Raymond Price, Zimbabwe's leading bowler — both left-arm spinners — acknowledged that a big challenge awaits their teams at the Sardar Patel Stadium at Motera on Friday.

The main reason is that the two teams have not locked horns in an international for almost six years.

Though New Zealand has won 19 of the 28 matches and has not lost to Zimbabwe at a neutral venue, Vettori — considering his team's position, the group, and the format of the competition — said it was a must-win game for his team.

Before joining his team for an optional practice session here on Wednesday, Vettori said: “Zimbabwe is actually playing pretty well and it will be difficult for us. It's a team we have not seen in a long time. Australia was all pace for us and we are going to see a lot of spin this time.”

Vettori is one of the few to have played a dozen matches against Zimbabwe and taken 17 wickets. “Price does a good job. The disadvantage for us is that we have not played him.

Need to deal with spin

“They have a variety of spinners and we have to be ready to deal with that to progress. We have played two spinners for quite a while now and this gives us a good balance; though it doesn't affect us much whether we play one spinner or two.''

Talking about the effect of the Christchurch earthquake on the minds of his team, he said: “It's been tough, but we cannot give excuses. What people are going through at home is a lot worse than we could imagine. So it's our responsibility to put in a professional and winning performance.

Pace-spin combo

New Zealand started with Tim Southee and Nathan McCullum against Kenya and Southee and Vettori against Kenya and Australia. “We have done it (pace-spin combination) in the last two games. The wicket here is pretty good. We played a Test here and know it's going to be good.

“It depends on the combination of bowlers we are going in with. Kyle Mills is fit and back in the team and he's likely to take the new ball here.''

Price eager to have a go

After an excellent spell against Australia here 10 days ago, Price is looking forward to bowling his first ball to a New Zealand batsman.

Except for off-spinner Prosper Utseya, who has played two matches against New Zealand, none of the Zimbabwe bowlers have played against New Zealand.

Price said he was looking forward to bowling to the Kiwis.

“I'm always itching to bowl, whether at the start or at the end. Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder hit the ball a long way. Brendon has made one of the fastest hundreds as well. They have some good players, so it's going to be very difficult for me.

“The ball is a lot harder when you start. The ball roughs up quite quickly in India and that makes it easier to hold,” said Price.

Used to Power Play

He said spinners were the main bowlers for the franchise teams in Zimbabwe and hence were used to bowling in Power Play situations.

“We have been lucky that way. Most guys can bowl at the start as well as at the death. But, we are short another seam bowler. Heath Streak (bowling coach) is working on that and we would like to start with two seamers in the future.”

Key is ability to recoup

After the 91-run defeat to Australia, Zimbabwe beat Canada at Nagpur. “We fought hard against Canada. For us it's more about being able to recoup after a bad start. We lost two early wickets before Tatenda Taibu and Craig Irwine set it up.

“It's a question of getting the basics right and not getting too far ahead of ourselves,” said Price, who took three for 16 at Nagpur following his one for 43 against Australia.

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