Injured Vettori, Mills to miss clash against Lanka

Mumbai: Injured New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori and speedster Kyle Mills are all set to miss their team`s final World Cup Group A fixture against Sri Lanka here on Friday in order to be fit for the quarterfinals, said vice-captain Ross Taylor on Wednesday.

"We are looking at having Kyle Mills and Daniel Vettori fit for the quarterfinals. Their injuries have come along fine but they probably are not ready for this match," said stand-in-skipper Taylor.

Taylor, who roared his way back into form against Pakistan with a blistering unbeaten 131 and then followed it up with a breezy 44-ball 74 that included 5 sixes and 6 fours at the Wankhede Stadium, which is also the venue for the tie against 1996 World Cup champions Sri Lanka, will lead the side in Vettori`s absence.

Team`s media manager Ellery Tuffin said that as a precautionary measure, Darryl Tuffey has been called in as a cover for Mills, who hurt his left quadriceps against Canada in the previous game and left the field after bowling only 16 balls in which he captured two wickets.

"It`s just a precautionary measure. Tuffey would be joining the team on Friday (the day of the match)," he told PTI.

Vettori hurt his right knee during the game against Pakistan at Pallekele in Kandy (Sri Lanka) on March 8 and did not play in the tie against Canada that the Black Caps won by 97 runs.

While the 27-year-old Wellington-born Taylor, who is to lead the team for the second match running, rued the duo`s absence from the tie but said it afforded their replacements a chance to step up to the plate and deliver.

"It`s disappointing not to have them for the match but their absence gives opportunity for someone else to step up and perform their role," he said.

Taylor said the Black Caps would have to choose whether to go in with an extra bowler in left arm spinner Luke Woodcock or an extra allrounder against Sri Lanka.

"Luke Woodcock comes into the twelve. We have to discuss what balance we go in with, an extra bowler or an extra all rounder," he said.

With the top order, especially the opening pair of Brendon McCullum, who struck a superb maiden ton in the previous tie, and Martin Guptill in great form, Taylor did not see himself coming higher up than fourth in the order.

"The way Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum have performed has been outstanding and they have laid a good platform. Jesse Ryder has been in good form back home. Not got the same opportunity (in the tournament), but has been striking the ball well. The top four is the key for us. (I have) to bat lower order and make use of the (batting) powerplay."

Taylor felt no team in the tournament has so far mastered the crucial innovation — the batting powerplay — but also said no one has been extremely poor with it also.

"Powerplay is just not all about scoring lot of runs.

Quite often it`s getting their best bowler back and using them up for the powerplay and then catching up with what you might not have got in the powerplay later on — may be against lesser bowlers.

"When is the best time to use the powerplay, I don`t think any team has mastered it but at the same time I don`t think any team has been particularly poor at it either," Taylor said.

He said it may be good to play the Lankans in neutral territory and even though both the teams have already made it to the knockout rounds, the winner would go into the second stage of the tournament with high confidence.

"It`s an important match leading into the quarterfinals.

If you win you get lot more confidence and take some momentum into the knockout stage. If you lose it hurts a little bit," Taylor said.

"We have gained confidence after winning two games. We know Sri Lanka are a good side. We have played them a lot in the recent times. There won`t be many surprises in both sides.

We know each other very well," he added.

But he did not think playing away from home is a major disadvantage for the tournament`s co-hosts who played their first five games on familiar territory before moving to Mumbai for their last league tie.

"It`s probably a nice thing to play Sri Lanka at a neutral venue but it`s not a disadvantage to Sri Lanka in any way. If they had played at home they would have a lot of supporters. But Sri Lanka are a very professional side and it won`t affect them at all," he said.

Taylor did not see the wicket at this venue providing help to the pace bowlers as it did against Canada early on when the Black Caps were inserted in by rival skipper Ashish Bagai.

"I think the conditions would be entirely different from the Canada game. It was a 9:30 am start and there was a bit of movement early on."

Taylor said he could not comment on whether there would be dew or not late in the evening in the day/night fixture.

"Kandy (Pallekele stadium) had dew when we bowled, but when Sri Lanka played Zimbabwe there was no dew whatsoever.

It`s a bit of pot luck when you bank on the dew coming down. I think you have to go with the instincts," he remarked.

He said though the wickets have not changed much in the tournament since it began except for becoming a bit dry, and climate getting hotter.

"I am just finding I am sweating a lot more, temperatures are getting a lot hotter and the wickets are probably getting a little bit dry," he said.

Taylor stressed on the importance of bowlers able to getting some reverse swing in these conditions as most of the wickets have fallen to reverse-swinging deliveries in the tournament so far.

"We don`t have anyone with express pace. We try and bowl line and length and at the stumps. With Allan Donald (bowling coach) to help, the bowlers have been trying reverse swing a lot more. A lot of countries are getting the wickets through the reverse swing rather than swing.

He also said he enjoyed captaining his country whenever he got the chance as he gets more involved in the game as a whole.

"(There is) no bigger honour than leading the country.

Not having Dan (Vettori) in the side is a disappointment. When he is not there I enjoy captaining the country. It makes you more involved in the game and having a bit more influence on the proceedings in the field. It`s something I have really enjoyed doing," he said.