SPORT

Kiwis have plenty of batting worries

New Zealand blew a fine chance to defeat archrival Australia at Guwahati when all it needed to do was bat with common sense.

The Kiwis just could not put together partnerships which meant the side was losing wickets at regular intervals. Indeed, New Zealand has plenty of batting worries now.

With Nathan Astle out of the TVS tri-series, the Kiwis need big runs from skipper Stephen Fleming but that has not happened so far. The captain is simply not converting on his starts.

This Australian team, even without key bowlers, is a good one, but it has been made to look better because India and New Zealand have not put pressure on it.

New Zealand won the toss and the Kiwi pacemen got the chance to utilise the morning moisture on the pitch. They got important breakthroughs too, but allowed Australia to wriggle out of trouble.

The Kiwis had a 6-3 field and bowled on or outside the off-stump, but the Australians were able to score a few on the on-side. Left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori turned in an extremely economical spell. The New Zealanders, however, once again conceded more runs than what they would have bargained for at the end of the Australian innings.

Michael Bevan showed his value to the Aussie side like he does so often. He is such a shrewd batsman that he can gather his runs at a good clip without appearing to take too many risks.

The Aussie is cool during crunch times, a key attribute of his batting. You will rarely find him attempting a rash stroke, even during occasions when quick runs are desperately needed.

He would take the ones and twos, and whenever he hit the ball firmly he would ensure that he found the gaps. This explains why he is such an outstanding player in limited-overs cricket.

Time and again Bevan has delivered, battling it out in the company of the lower order. His superb running between the wickets helps, as he retains strike without much fuss. The fact that Bevan is a lefthander means that there invariably is a left-right combination when he is in the middle, making it tougher for the bowlers.

Even after Bevan's effort, the Australian total was gettable and the Kiwis, when they look back at the match, will rue the fact that they did not apply themselves to the job on hand. Generally, the Kiwis are a disciplined lot but this was not evident from their effort on Sunday.

The Australians, who have already booked their place in the final, displayed admirable commitment on the field and some of the throwing from the deep was outstanding. There is always a danger running that extra run against the world champion.

The Kiwis have to do some serious rethink about their batting strategy. The top-order is simply crumbling and the lower order cannot bail the side out of trouble time and again.

www.kris-srikkanth.com

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