Vettori detects change from norm
Daniel Vettori is desperate to exceed expectations and lead his New Zealand side beyond the last four of the ICC Champions Trophy when they come up against Pakistan at the Wanderers tomorrow.
The Black Caps have a solid but unspectacular history in major competitions, reaching the semi-finals and beyond in eight out of 15 International Cricket Council events, but enter their clash against Pakistan as second favourites.
However, they have done exceptionally well in South Africa, beating Sri Lanka and England on their way to topping Group B with their only loss coming against hosts South Africa in their tournament opener.
“It’s a much preferable way to go into a semi-final, knowing that we’ve won two big games,” he told the pre-match press conference. “Maybe in the past, we’ve sort of scraped through, but I think we’ve done well.
“We qualified top and now we can go into the Pakistan game with a lot a lot of confidence knowing that the guys have performed well in the last two games.”
In 2007, New Zealand lost their World Cup semi-final to Sri Lanka, who were inspired by Mahela Jayawardene's hundred. It is not a pattern Vettori wants to continue.
He continued: “I suppose there’s always an expectation for a New Zealand team to make a semi-final, and then there’s also an expectation for us to lose that semi-final.
“But we really want to go past that, we really want to change the script a little bit. For me personally, it would be one of the more satisfying things I could do in my career to lead a New Zealand team to a world final.
“And then once you get to that stage, you never know what can happen.”
While being wary of the threat posed by the Pakistan spinners, Vettori is also hoping to catch them on an off day.
He said: “Their spin bowling has been very impressive over the last year or so. I think (Shahid) Afridi and (Saeed) Ajmal have combined exceptionally well and they’ve coupled that with a very good seam bowling attack and no obvious weakness in their batting.
“So we know they can be a very good side, but I suppose like us, they’ve been a little bit inconsistent and we’ll be hoping that we just catch them on that off day.”
The Kiwis have been plagued by injuries through the tournament, losing Jacob Oram (hamstring), Jesse Ryder (groin) and Daryl Tuffey (broken hand), and have a fresh injury worry over all-rounder Grant Elliott (thumb).
But Vettori insists that Elliott’s concerns have not interrupted their preparations. Scott Styris has been summoned on standby.
He added: “I think it’s a little bit of a tough one. The injection works when he bats, but it doesn’t work when he bowls. We’ll probably leave it to the last possible minute before we make a decision.
“It is frustrating, but I think we’re actually used to it. We had to go through it at the Twenty20 World Cup and I’ve been through it before with the New Zealand team.
“So if anything, it’s probably brought the group a little bit tighter and there is realisation that the senior players have to step up even more to cover for the constant turnover of the team.”