New Zealand believes that the best way to go about batting across all formats is the “Brendon McCullum” way and take the entertainment index to a new high. After playing his 101st Test match, the fast scoring trendsetter retired from all international cricket recently, but his teammates have vowed to follow the legacy left by him. New Zealand played two warm up matches on good batting tracks at the Wankhede Stadium before arriving here and got down to the business of posting big totals. It has not lost a Twenty20 match to India and it looks in ominous form. But what its batsmen are capable of against Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and the part-time spinners in Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, has to be seen.
It virtually toyed with the Sri Lankan attack to make 226 and won the match in a canter, but the New Zealand batsmen’s free-scoring vein was brought to a halt by the England off-spinner Moeen Ali (1 for 30) and leg-spinner Adil Rashid (3 for 15) on Saturday. Skipper Kane Williamson took the lead to attack the England seamers Chris Jordon, Reece Topley and Liam Plunket as New Zealand raced to 84 in eight overs, but its scoring rate declined dramatically with Eoin Morgan tossing the ball to his key spinners.
Left hand bat and spinner Mitchell Santner, who has taken the first steps in international cricket across all formats, highlighted the McCullum aspect of batting and also the need to improve against spinners. After the match against England he said: “McCullum obviously was an aggressive player, but we have got a good balanced side and everyone has that aggressive nature and can kind of follow in his footsteps. We've got a reasonably balanced side in all aspects and that is the nature of our game to play aggressive and I think that will continue through the tournament.”
On the issue of being able to deal with the spinners he said: “Maybe we have to play spin a little bit better. I think it will change depending on where you are. Mumbai, there's a bit of grass on the wicket and it showed a bit of swing. You go to Nagpur and it's probably going to spin. You have got to adapt quickly when you see the surface at different grounds and go from there.”
Clearly New Zealand will look upon the big hitting line up in Martin Guptill (went unsold at the IPL 9 auction), Williamson, Ross Taylor, Colin Munro and Corey Anderson to swat their bat against medium pacers and give themselves a chance to defend totals or chase. Guptill, Williamson, Munro and Anderson have got a feel of the conditions and have arrived at Nagpur on Sunday evening high on confidence. Since January 2015, New Zealand has played nine Twenty20 matches and has won six and lost to England, South Africa and Pakistan. Its overall Asia-centric results have been 2-2 against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, 1-3 against Pakistan in the UAE and 1-0 against India in India.
New Zealand’s highest total against India is 190 at the Wanderers, Johannesburg in the inaugural Twenty20, and the lowest it chased is 149 at Wellington in February 2009. India came close to winning its first match against New Zealand in September 2012 at Chennai; New Zealand set a target of 168 and India ended up at 166 for 4. So India will start the ICC World Twenty20 against New Zealand which is the only Test playing country that’s not lost a match to a team that’s won the ICC world Cup and the ICC World Twenty20.