Sunday, November 1, 2009

Champions Trophy has Bond confident

New Zealand are referring to their notes and subsequent defeat of Pakistan in last month's Champions Trophy to prepare for the ODI series starting in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday morning.

Pace bowler Shane Bond is confident New Zealand can hit the ground running in the first of three matches in Abu Dhabi.

The five-wicket defeat of Pakistan in the Champions Trophy in Johannesburg was reason to believe a series win was within their grasp although Bond was wary the environment would suit Pakistan far better than that in South Africa four weeks ago.

"We'll redraw the stuff we had last time on them," Bond said.

"It worked pretty well in terms of the bowlers, we knew what we had to do. Obviously this time we'll have to adapt to the surface which will be flat and slow like Pakistan conditions."

Bond will be a key figure at the top of the bowling order as he continues his return to the international fold.

His return came in September's one-day series in Sri Lanka, followed by the Champions Trophy, where he showed glimpses of his class.

He was feeling fit and already looking beyond the UAE tour - which ends with two Twenty20 fixtures next week - to a solid stint of first-class cricket with Canterbury.

If he comes through that unscathed, a return to the Test stage looms in the three-test home series against Pakistan starting on November 24 in Dunedin.

"It'll be quite nice to get a full run of cricket in this series and then get back and get into some four-day cricket as well. I'm expecting the more I play the better I'll get. I haven't hit top form but it's not far away," he said.

"Everyone goes on about the speed, I'm happy with the pace I'm bowling.

"The more I bowl the more consistent I'll get. I haven't put in a consistent performance yet.

"I've been good in the odd spell then I've come back and haven't been as sharp as I'm supposed to be."

The New Zealand team makeup changed during Bond's lengthy absence from the New Zealand team, as he served penance for his stint in the rebel Indian Cricket League.

He admitted the batting lineup had a green tinge, which put more emphasis on those with the ball to show the way.

"The bulk of the experience is now in the bowling line-up. In terms of being a bowler coming back into the team we have to lead from the front and do well which puts pressure on us but we quite enjoy that," he said.

"If we don't lead we can't rely on the inexperienced blokes to do it all the time."

Bond will also be called on to show leadership off the park following the controversial resignation of former coach Andy Moles.

Wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum lost the vice-captaincy in the fallout from that episode, with New Zealand Cricket calling on the likes of Bond and other senior players to provide increased support for player-coach Daniel Vettori.

Selection interest surrounds whether uncapped Northern Districts opener BJ Watling will be given a start on Wednesday and where McCullum will bat, with speculation that he may be shifted from opener to a middle-order role at some stage.

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