Andrew Alderson

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

Cricket: It's all or nothing - fired up coach delivers his orders

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

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

Sri Lanka have won 10 of the past 11 50-over encounters between the sides, dating back to January 2007.

In tournament play Sri Lanka has won seven out eight, extending back to the first Champions Trophy (then known as the Wills International Cup) in October 1998.

It's a daunting record to break, but 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 up against, but not a lot of us have played against [off-spinner Sachithra] Senanayake. However, Brendon [McCullum] 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 be facing 30 to 35 overs of spin. We need to be proactive against it."

Hesson says Sri Lanka's record at recent international tournaments - they have been in four of the past six International Cricket Council tournament finals - is enviable.

"They are a pretty good side. They've got aggressive batsmen at the top of the order and 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 cited the death bowling as the main area requiring improvement after what he described as a "blip" when England made 76 runs off the last four overs in this week's one-day loss at Nottingham.

"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."

- NZ Herald

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