By Aaron Kumar
New Zealand opened their Super Eight campaign with a crushing win against Ireland and the Black Caps will have high hopes of improving on their semi-final showing in the 2007 tournament. I caught up with New Zealand's star batsman Ross Taylor who talked to Cricket World exclusively about his thoughts on New Zealand's campaign thus far, his experience of playing in the IPL and he tells us why he prefers the Super Over to the bowl-out.
Three games into the tournament New Zealand have brushed aside Scotland and Ireland and although they did fall one run short to tournament favourites, South Africa, Taylor said the team are happy with their progress so far.
"We are pretty happy with the way it has gone probably the tournament starts now with the must win games," he said. "We play Sri Lanka and Pakistan so it is going to be a big one."
Taylor himself was part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team that reached the final of the recently concluded IPL, while many of Taylor's New Zealand team-mates including Brendon McCullum and Jacob Oram also took part in the lucrative competition and Taylor told Cricket World that such preparation for the ICC World Twenty20 was invaluable.
"It was a very big thing for me, you can prepare as much as you can for a tournament but to actually play the format that you are going to in a tournament beforehand is always going to be a lot better than just practise," he explained. "So playing in the IPL Twenty20 tournament was outstanding. We got to see a lot of how the other teams play, and we are playing with some of the world's best cricketers, so I dont think our players that went t the IPL could have had any better preparation."
New Zealand have two matches in the Super Eights remaining, against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and Taylor has singled out the spinners from both teams as the biggest danger to New Zealand.
"I think spin plays a big part in Twenty20 Cricket," he said. "I think [Shahid] Afridi for Pakistan and their other yong spinner [Saaed Ajmal], from Pakistan are going to be a handful and the same with Sri Lanka. I think [Ajantha] Mendis and Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan) are outstanding exponents of the Twenty20 game and will probably be the key but not only those spinners, each side has got one exceptional death bowler: Umur Gul for Pakistan and [Lasith] Malinga for Sri Lanka so those are the biggest strengths that both those teams have got."
New Zealand's match against Scotland was reduced to seven overs a side as a result of rain, and Scotland managed to post 89 runs and after the game the Scottish captain Gavin Hamilton expressed his dissapointment at the fact that his team couldn't seal an upset given their half-time position. Taylor was a relieved man after the Black Caps got home with an over to spare.
"It was one of those ones where we didn't bowl as well as we would have liked," Taylor confirms. "If you had said to us at the start of the game that we would have 90 ourselves I think we would have taken it but as it worked out the outfield was pretty quick and the boundary especially on one side was quite small. We were just lucky we got away with that victory."
Should there be a tie in the ICC World Twenty20, the match would be decided on a Super Over, instead of the bowl-out which was used in the last tournament. New Zealand were involved in a Super Over recently against the West Indies, and Taylor tells us why he prefers the one over shoot out.
"It is a weird one, we have already been invloved in one Super Over," he recalls. "It was a joy to be a part of, I probably prefer the Super Over - at least there are a few more players involved, similar to a shoot out. Hopefully we dont have to face that for the rest of the tournament but if we do then I am sure it will be exciting for the players and the fans," he added.
During the last group game against South Africa, Taylor sustained a hamstring injury which ruled him out against Ireland. Taylor said it is still giving him trouble at the moment but he hopes to be fit for Tuesday's game against Sri Lanka.
"It is still giving me trouble," he said. "I wont be playing in this next game but we will see how rehab goes over the next three or four days and hopefully I will be able to play against Sri Lanka on Tuesday."
© Cricket World 2009