Cricket: NZ must up batting effort

By David Leggat

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Brendon McCullum had little batting support from his teammates yesterday. Photo/Thinkstock
Brendon McCullum had little batting support from his teammates yesterday. Photo/Thinkstock

Rugby types are fond of the term, and New Zealand's cricketers will know just what they mean by "work-ons" after their opening warm-up T20 World Cup defeat to Pakistan yesterday.

They have plenty still to tick off going into their second and final leadup game against Australia in Fatullah tonight, after losing to Pakistan by six wickets in Mirpur.

They arrived in Bangladesh on the back of a rousing home summer. Conditions for the T20 tournament will be vastly different from home. They knew that and have tailored preparations accordingly.

However the batsmen, apart from captain Brendon McCullum, have much to do after making only 145 for nine.

McCullum's unbeaten 59 off 45 balls kept New Zealand afloat but half centuries from Pakistan's Kamran Akmal and captain Mohammad Hafeez set up a win off the penultimate ball.

"The idea is to try things out before the tournament in conditions we're going to be faced with," seamer Tim Southee said.

"We gained a lot out of it, leading into the Australia game."

Pakistan possess two T20 bowling aces. Seamer Umar Gul has twice taken five for six - including against New Zealand at The Oval in 2009 - and only Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis has done better.

Offspinner Saeed Ajmal had the Kiwis in knots yesterday.

Southee and spinners Nathan McCullum and Ronnie Hira, were tidy, but didn't have enough runs to work with.

The experiment with Kane Williamson opening didn't work, but won't be discarded immediately.

The format against Australia is interesting. The day's activities will start an hour earlier than scheduled - but won't be televised - and will consist of a T20 game, followed by a five-over game and a Super Over shootout. Both teams should get much out of the day.

There is a feeling this will be a tournament full of relatively low scores unless the pitches are sparked up.

Southee said 140 was defendable on wickets such as yesterday's: "With their slow nature it's hard [for batsmen] to get yourself in."

Despite T20's big hitting, this could yet turn out to be a bowler's tournament.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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