Special Correspondent

  • New Zealand won the Champions Trophy in 2000
  • Shane Bond feels his career might not stretch beyond two or three years.

    NEW DELHI: Though it won the 2000 edition of the Champions Trophy, New Zealand is seldom mentioned among the formidable contenders for the honour. That is because New Zealand, before and after defeating India in the final in Nairobi, has lacked the consistency to be rated as a serious challenger in any major contest.

    It is no different this time. In spite of boasting of a well settled and a well-rested combination, skipper Stephen Fleming will once again be expected to show the way at the top of the order. And he is ready for it.

    "I have realistic hopes of our team doing well because we are at full-strength and fully fit," declared the 33-year-old Fleming during an interaction with the media here on Monday.

    "We have not played much one-day cricket lately (its last game was against the West Indies in Auckland on March 4 this year), but some of our players did well for their counties in England. We know what we have to do and what we can do," said New Zealand's most successful player in both forms of the game having scored over 13,700 international runs.

    Responsibility on Bond

    What has added to New Zealand's capabilities is the presence of speedster Shane Bond. The 31-year-old is hoping to "keep it simple" on the flat wickets of the sub-continent and try to bowl at 150kmph.

    "I concentrate on my line and length and remain patient hoping for the batsmen to come after me. Then I know I have a chance," said Bond whose in-swinging yorkers and susceptibility to injury have remained the talking point of his international career since 2001.

    "Nowadays, I try to be a little smarter. I don't do too many things, but I have a clear plan for each batsman. It's not that I don't feel the pressure. Expectations of the people back home are very high," said Bond.

    Bond, however, pointed out that his career might not stretch beyond two or three years. "I am not going to break my body to pieces. If my body does not allow me, I won't continue," was Bond's candid admission.

    Coach John Bracewell said the team was capable of living up to the expectations. "We have a lot of swing bowlers to take care of the dew factor in these day-night games."

    On power plays contributing to the rising scores in one-day cricket, with the 400-run barrier being breached this year, the former off-spinner said, "the 400-run mark is much like the sub-four-minute mile clocked by Roger Bannister. Once you have hit it, it is likely to be repeated again and again."

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