Bond urges batsmen to step up
Shane Bond believes the experienced New Zealand bowling line-up has the goods to cause Pakistan problems, but says the key to winning the three-Test series will be getting runs on the board.
New Zealand’s top order has failed to consistently make big runs in the Test arena in recent years, and now the onus is on likely openers Martin Guptill and Tim McIntosh, as well as Daniel Flynn, Ross Taylor and Peter Fulton to set a platform.
“We need runs really. I think if you’re going to win Test matches you need big runs,” said Bond, who is set to end his two-year exile from Test cricket when the first Test in Dunedin gets under way on Tuesday.
“I suppose that’s been the one area that we’ve lacked a little bit is scoring those consistent big runs from the top of the order.
“I think if we can get runs on the board then we definitely have the bowling attack to take wickets.”
Guptill has been in good touch in the one-day form recently, getting three half-centuries in his last seven ODIs, but has yet to reach 50 in nine Test innings.
McIntosh hit an unbeaten 131 for a New Zealand Invitational XI against Pakistan on Friday - although the bowling attack was missing likely Test contenders teenage left-armer Mohammad Aamer and quick Umar Gul - while Flynn made a useful 49 and 56 in the same three-day warm-up match in Queenstown.
In the recent Test series in Sri Lanka, Taylor, along with Daniel Vettori, largely carried the Black Caps and the right-hander will once again be a key figure, particularly in the absence of the injured Jesse Ryder and the retired Jacob Oram.
Fulton and Grant Elliott, who have not played Test cricket since last year’s series against Australia, have replaced Ryder and Oram.
But Elliott is unlikely to carry the bowling workload his predecessor had with Vettori indicating the South Africa-born player is seen fundamentally as a batsman.
As for Bond, his 6-148 off 40 overs in a four-day domestic championship win against Otago would have been welcome news for his skipper after the fast bowler’s successful reintroduction to limited-overs internationals in Sri Lanka, South Africa and the recent series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates following his two-year stint in the rebel Indian Cricket League.
Pakistan arrived in New Zealand under a cloud after captain Younus Khan – who had already resigned and been reinstated following allegations of match-fixing – opted out of the series.
Mohammad Yousuf will lead the side in New Zealand and shapes as one of their most dangerous batsmen, alongside the consistent Shoaib Malik and promising Fawad Alam.
Of the trio, Yousuf and Alam played in the Queenstown warm-up match - Alam top-scoring with 77 in the Pakistan’s only innings.
Gul, who took an extraordinary 5-6 against New Zealand at the ICC World Twenty20 in June, and Aamer, may not find the cool conditions in Dunedin to their liking but Bond remains wary.
“(Aamer’s) been a bit of a find for them. We probably haven’t played him as well as we would have liked,” admitted Bond.
“We’ve had some troubles with left-armers in the past so we need to nullify someone young and enthusiastic like him.”
Aamer can be no slouch with the bat either, as New Zealand found out in the one-dayers in Abu Dhabi where he smashed a record unbeaten 73 in a 10th-wicket stand of 103 with Saeed Ajmal.
The Test series, which also includes matches in Wellington and Napier, will also see the Umpire Decision Review System in use.