New Zealand dismiss unspectacular build up

LONDON: Despite their unimpressive credentials, the New Zealand World Twenty20 squad are talking boldly from their camp at Sir John Paul Getty's palatial estate on the outskirts of London.

"A lot of thought has gone into the preparation for this tournament and we hope that it will be rewarded," coach Andy Moles said.

If the just-completed Indian Premier League (IPL) series is any yardstick that is a big hope, but then New Zealand takes the view that the shorter the game the more level the playing field.

Ranked eighth in Test cricket and leaping to fourth in ODIs, New Zealand sees opportunity in the blossoming Twenty20 version of the game -- even if none of its seven players in the IPL tournament performed with real distinction.

Ross Taylor of the Bangalore Royal Challengers -- the beaten finalists -- was the best of the stroke makers but his average 31.11 only ranked him 15th in the tournament.

Kyle Mills was on the Mumbai Indian payroll but not used at all while the rest of the New Zealand contingent fell somewhere between Taylor and Mills with largely non-descript performances from limited appearances.

But the failure of the cream of New Zealand's cricket crop to set the IPL alight did not bother selector Glenn Turner going into the World Twenty20.

"The nature of the beast which is the Twenty20 game is very hit and miss," Turner said, adding that even net practice at the IPL was better than "sitting at home in the winter doing nothing".

Notwithstanding the IPL performances, an upbeat Moles maintained New Zealand deserved to be ranked as potential champions given that the hit-and-hope nature of Twenty20 reduced the talent difference between sides.

"We have plenty of match-winners with bat and ball; it's a matter of them performing as consistently as possible. This is our strongest squad so there are no excuses," he said.

Moles is promising New Zealand will be "very aggressive" in the tournament, and one area which could prove vital is their renowned fielding, where accuracy can go some way towards compensating for batting and bowling shortfalls.

There could even be a lift from the pride of playing for country instead of IPL cash, although a recent survey of New Zealand's top cricketers showed 45 percent now see an IPL contract as the pinnacle of world cricket.

But the bottom line is that the senior players who failed to impress at the IPL who will have to find a sudden burst of form to lead the way.

In addition to Taylor, Brendon McCullum was showing signs of class with the bat towards the end of the IPL although his Kolkata Knight Riders finished last.

However, the remainder of the New Zealand contingent -- Jesse Ryder, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori and Scott Styris, were relegated to being spare parts contributors.

Of the balance of the squad Iain O'Brien, James Franklin, Ian Butler and Peter McGlashan have been playing in England while Brendon Diamanti, Nathan McCullum, Neil Broom and Martin Guptill remained in New Zealand.