NZ coach: 'Challenge is to play best cricket from tomorrow'

Despite two defeats in the recent past New Zealand A’s captain remained optimistic on the eve of the opening one-day series game against India A.

Henry Nicholls (left), captain of New Zealand A team, and coach Shane Bond at a media interaction in Visakhapatnam on Thursday on the eve of the ODI match with India A team.   -  C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

“If we play anywhere near our potential, we’ll be tough to beat,” declared Henry Nicholls. Despite two defeats in the recent past New Zealand A’s captain remained optimistic on the eve of the opening one-day series game against India A at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy international stadium on Friday.

Wasn’t India in a pyschologically better position after victory by an innings in each of the two unofficial Test matches ? “No. It’s a different format. It’s a new series. The way we look at it, we start nil-nil. The challenge will be to play our best cricket from tomorrow,” he said.

With just one change in personnel between formats, was New Zealand a better four-day or a one-day side ? “We are hoping to be a better one day side. We’ll look to each player to make the adjustments from the four-dayers. We’re going to be a lot better in the one-day series,” affirmed the Kiwi skipper.

When asked what could be expected of the ODI series, Nicholls retraced his steps to Vijayawada. “It took us a while to adjust to the conditions and find our feet. We were comprehensively outplayed. But we still feel we are a strong competitive side.

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“Since we’ve been here for two weeks, now’s the chance to kick on better in the remaining half of the tour. We will be very competitive with changes in our batting order after Jeet’s (Raval) gone home. We’re looking forward to a tough series,” he said.

Coach Shane Bond was asked if New Zealand couldn’t accomplish as much as its neighbour Australia, because it wasn’t as aggressive. “I don’t think that’s got anything to do with being aggressive. Australia has been a great team for a long time, has a bigger population and cricket’s a national sport there,” countered the former fastest bowler in the world.

“For a nation of four million people we made the semifinals numerously. We’ve done incredibly well considering the conditions and the number of players we have at home. Some time in the near future, we’ll pick up one of those trophies,” assured Bond.

On his soaring form, India A captain Shreyas Iyer said he’d struck a rich vein from South Africa itself. With his squad comprising players who had proved themselves in the recent tournaments there was enough reason to do well.

The port city has been pounded repeatedly by thundershowers, with nets sessions cancelled due to wet conditions. Rains expected from tomorrow till October 8 could be the only dampener to an otherwise keen series.

TEAMS

New Zealand A: Henry Nicholls (captain), Tom Blundell (wk), Todd Astle, Tom Bruce, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleign, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, George Worker, Will Young, Glenn Phillips, Sean Solia.

India A: Shreyas Iyer (captain), Rishab Pant (wk), Shreevats Goswami, Karn Sharma, Ankit Bawne, Mayank Agarwal, Deepak Hooda, Vijay Shankar, Shabaz Nadeem, Shardul Thakur, Siddharth Kaul, Md. Siraj, Basil Thampi, Prithvi Shaw.

Umpires: Rohan Pandit, Sadashiv Iyer, V. Jayapal. Match referees: Prakash Bhatt, Nitin Goel. Hours of play: 9 AM to 12.30 PM; 1.15 to 4.45 PM.