Oz all geared up to take on tragedy hit Black Caps
Nagpur: Skipper Ricky Ponting will be desperately looking to get his act together when Australia take on New Zealand in a Trans-Tasman battle at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Jamtha here on Friday.
While New Zealand were utterly dominant as they blew away Kenya in their opening round match in Chennai, the Australian batsmen save Shane Watson were rusty against the Zimbabwean bowlers although they managed a comfortable 91-run win in the end.
If Ponting`s men will like to put up a better all-round show, the Daniel Vettori-led Blacks Caps will be keen to focus hard on the match despite the devastating earthquake in Christchurch that has led to a loss of several lives.
Such has been the telling effect on the squad that New Zealand team are left without a physio and trainer.
Physiotherapist Dayle Shackel and trainer Bryan Stronach have left home to take care of their affected families.
In fact, the Board of Control for Cricket in India were requested by New Zealand Cricket to release NCA trainer Paul Close but that Indian board could not spare him. In fact, it was seniormost all-rounder Scott Styris who spilled the beans on twitter.
"Does anyone know of a physio here in India?Unfortunately BCCI won`t let us borrow their kiwi born academy physio whilst ours heads Back to Christchurch to take care of their demolished house? Would only be for a week or so till he comes back," Styris posted on his twitter account.
It is there to be seen how well the Kiwis can focus on the on-field activities after a tragedy of this magnitude.
When the Black Caps trained during the morning session, it was more like going through the motions — banter and laughs.
After the England vs Holland game, which saw nearly 600 runs being scored, one can expect another run feast on the Jamtha featherbed where the bowlers will find it difficult to contain the batsmen.
However, since it is supposed to be a day game (9:30 am start), one can expect seamers to get a bit of help for the first few overs with the white kookaburra but that`s all one can expect from this track which is as flat as it gets.
While New Zealand pacers Hamish Bennett and Tim Southee ran through the Kenyan batting the other day on a placid Jamtha strip, it will be skipper Vettori and offie Nathan McCullum who will be calling the shots.
Nathan, in fact opened the bowling for New Zealand in the first match bringing back memories of 1992 World Cup when offie Deepak Patel used to open the bowling in the smallish New Zealand grounds.
Also the fact that Australians didn`t play the spinners well against Zimbabwe will encourage Vettori and co. Even the likes of Cameron White and David Hussey who are capable using long handle against spinners failed to get going.
During the last match, Zimbabwean spin trio of left-armer Ray Price, offie Prosper Utseya and leggie Graeme Cremer gave away only 127 runs from their 30 overs which showed the dominance of slower bowlers.
Even on Jamtha wicket, it was England`s off-spinner Graeme Swann and Holland left-arm spinner Pieter Seelaar who turned out to be the standout performers with the ball for their respective sides.
While Shane Watson will be expected to provide the initial impetus during the fielding restrictions, skipper Ricky Ponting will like to shrug off the disappointment and controversy surrounding him and get on with the game.
Ponting had been reprimanded by ICC match referee Roshan Mahanama for damaging a television set after being run-out in the last match.
Australia pacers however gave a good account of themselves. Comeback man Brett Lee bowled at a brisk pace and showed good control, so did Mitchell Johnson who had figures of four for 19 to show for his efforts.
It will be an interesting battle between the Australian pacers and Kiwi batsmen like Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor who have the capability of damaging the reputation of any attack on a given day.
In all likelihood, both Australia and New Zealand will like to keep their winning combinations intact.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Brad Haddin, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, Cameron White, David Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Jason Krejza, Steven Smith, Shaun Tait, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, John Hastings, Callum Ferguson
New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (captain), Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Ross Taylor, Nathan McCullum, Hamish Bennett, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock, Jamie How.