Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: We must be aggressive - Hesson

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson wants his team to take an all-or-nothing approach to Sri Lanka in the side's first game of the Champions Trophy on Sunday.

The match will be played in Cardiff on what's expected to be a pitch more suited to seam than spin.

Sri Lanka have won 10 of the last 11 completed 50-over encounters between the sides, dating back to January 2007. In tournament play Sri Lanka's won seven out eight, extending back to the inaugural Champions Trophy (then known as the Wills International Cup) in October 1998.

It's a daunting record to break. Hesson is firm on how to address the game.

"We'll be aggressive. We won't want to sit back. We've got some fields we will set to try to put pressure on their batsmen. Hopefully we can do that before they get started.

"We know most of the players we're a up against but not a lot of us have played against [off-spinner Sachithra] Senanayake. However, Brendon was with him at Kolkata in the IPL so we've got plenty of feedback.

"They've also got [left-arm orthodox Rangana] Herath and [leg-spinner Jeevan] Mendis. [Off-spinner Tillakaratne] Dilshan is useful as well. You could conceivably be facing 30-35 overs of spin.

We need to be proactive against it. Cardiff also looks as if it might nip a bit as well so [Nuwan] Kulasekara and [Angelo] Mathews could come into their own."

Hesson says Sri Lanka's record at recent international tournaments is enviable.

"They've made four of the last six [International Cricket Council tournament] finals so they are a pretty good side. They've got aggressive batsmen at the top of the order, experience in the middle with [Kumar] Sangakkara and [Mahela] Jayawardene. Their spin bowling takes wickets and they've got the [Lasith] Malinga factor. When he gets it right, he's pretty tough. You know you've got to play extremely well to beat them."

Hesson pointed to the death bowling as the main area requiring improvement after what he described as a "blip" in the final one-day loss to England at Nottingham.

"The first 46 overs in the field we were exceptional [England scored 76 runs off last four overs]. It's probably the first time we've been put under pressure at the death for the last seven or eight one-dayers. It exposed our execution which is probably not a bad thing.

"You can train as much as you like but once you are put under the pump you've got to make sure your decision-making is clear. Certainly the execution needs to be improved. Having said that, obviously you need to give credit to [Eoin] Morgan and [Jos] Buttler who are two quality strikers at the death."

- NZ Herald

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