Confident Black Caps arrive for Zim adventure

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New Zealand cricket captain Ross Taylor said although Zimbabwe had shown signs of improvement against Bangladesh and Pakistan, his team would be going for nothing short of victory during their tour of Zimbabwe which starts on Saturday with the first Twenty20 (T20) encounter.

The Black Caps arrived at the Harare International Airport yesterday from Pretoria, South Africa, where they have been acclimatising. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Taylor, on his first assignment as the New Zealand skipper since succeeding Daniel Vettori, said: “We have come here to win. It’s good to finally be here in Zimbabwe after a long winter for a lot of our players.

“We know it’s going to be a tough series as Zimbabwe played well against Bangladesh and Pakistan, but we are still expecting to win.”

The aggressive 27-year-old top order batsman who has represented New Zealand in 30 Tests, 107 one-day internationals (ODIs) and 37 T20 internationals since his debut in 2006, said he had confidence in the squad that had been selected to do duty in this tour.

“We have brought our top team, the biggest exception being Daniel Vettori who will only be coming for the Test match as he is taking a break after the Champions League Twenty20.

“This will, however, give another opportunity to other players to step up and stake a claim for higher honours which will further extend the depth of our squad,” he said.Taylor said his team’s brief acclimatisation camp in Pretoria and the inclusion of players who toured here with New Zealand A last year was a big positive for his team.

“We have just come from three days in Pretoria which was nice for us as we got time to acclimatise. We are also lucky that the New Zealand A team came here and a lot of the guys in this squad were here before, but for me it’s my first trip here,” he said.

Despite being on his first visit to Zimbabwe, Taylor showed a lot of knowledge about local players.

“Zimbabwe has played very well at home in the past and know their conditions well and we are under no illusion that it’s going to be a walkover. However, we know if we play well as a team we can beat any team and we will be looking to do that to win the series.

“Obviously they will bank on guys like Hamilton Masakadza, Tatenda Taibu and Brendan Taylor who all have a lot of experience at international level. Brendan, being a new captain like myself, will be under a lot of pressure to do well which is a chance for our experienced fast bowlers to put them under pressure and see how they respond,” he said.

The tour will get underway on Saturday with the first T20 at Harare Sports Club. The two T20s and first two ODIs will be played in Harare while the last ODI and Test match will be played at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. Before the Test match, New Zealand will play a two-day warm-up game against Zimbabwe XI at Bulawayo Athletic Club.

New Zealand squads:

Test: Ross Taylor (captain), Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, BJ Watling, Jesse Ryder, Dean Brownlie, Kane Williamson, Reece Young, Doug Bracewell, Daniel Vettori, Kyle Mills, Jeetan Patel, Tim Southee, Andy McKay, Chris Martin.

One-day/Twenty20: Ross Taylor (captain), Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, BJ Watling, Jesse Ryder, Rob Nicol, Kane Williamson, James Franklin, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Doug Bracewell, Kyle Mills, Luke Woodcock, Andy McKay, Graeme Aldridge.