Cricket: Kyle's Cup finally runneth over

By Andrew Alderson

The win over Zimbabwe was all about confidence for the Black Caps - few would have gained more of that precious commodity than Kyle Mills.

Mills led the bowling attack along with Tim Southee and Hamish Bennett. The decision meant Jacob Oram again failed to find favour with tour selectors John Wright and Daniel Vettori.

In a 10-year international career, this was just Mills' second World Cup match. The 31-year-old played Bangladesh in 2003 and missed 2007 through injury.

With tidy figures of two for 29 runs from 10 overs, he proved New Zealand need him to have any hope of progressing beyond the quarter-finals.

Captain Vettori agreed. "As soon as Kyle is fit, he is obviously a big part of our team. He knows his role; he has done it for a long time and brings some balance."

The win must be tempered by the disclaimer 'it was only Zimbabwe', but at least New Zealand demonstrated some cricketing excellence.

At times Mills seemed to yo-yo the ball into the channel just outside off stump around a good length, leaving batsmen uncertain and restricted for runs.

That meant the pressure mounted to score from the other end. Mills' outswing was balanced by an upright seam, which caused several deliveries to jag towards and away from off stump.

While Bennett is a developing talent, he is best used in an attack to complement Mills and Southee from first change rather than as one of two pace bowlers.

Having observed Australia's success with three pace bowlers a week ago, New Zealand could opt for that balance during the rest of the tournament. It means they sacrifice a batsman in Oram but, if the team can build on a platform set by openers Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill, they could rely, in theory, on the all-round capabilities of Nathan McCullum and Vettori once the batting specialists are dismissed.

Vettori said earlier in the week Oram would get a game, but further discussions with Wright on the nature of the Zimbabwe batting changed his thinking.

"It was a tight call between Hamish and Jacob," Vettori said. "We eventually opted for extra pace against a team that probably hasn't seen that much. It is a selection issue we'll consider again [for Pakistan on Tuesday]."

Post-match, Mills wore a smile that was part-relief, part-satisfaction that his niggly back held up and that the team was able to notch a credible performance after the disappointment against Australia.

"It's definitely been a big moment in light of the fact I missed the last World Cup and the first two games of this one," he said. "It's been a long week - working hard at training and then getting named to play during warm-ups.

"Fortunately I put the ball in the right areas - something which is more my strength than pace - and we built pressure."

Mills wiped tears away last week during the silence to remember those who died in the Christchurch earthquake. He felt a week on they were more composed and better able to channel their energy into a winning performance.

"Winning a game of cricket will hopefully put a few smiles on the faces of those suffering back home. It's only sport but hopefully it means a lot to a country in mourning."

- Herald on Sunday

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