Johannesburg, Oct.5 (ANI): New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori is hoping that his ace striker, Shane Bond, who spent two years in exile while he played in the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League, will deliver for his side in the Champions Trophy final against Australia tonight.
The Age quoted Vettori, who is understandably happy to have Bond back, as saying: " The big thing is knowing I've got someone to turn to. While I think I've had that in the past, Shane probably takes that to another level. If you look at his record, it's outstanding. Any time I think I'm in a bind I always know I've got Shane Bond to rely on and that's a pretty good luxury to have."
At 34, Bond might not be the rampant force he once was, but he gives the Kiwis the express pace option they otherwise lack and has always had the respect of the Australians on account of his 34 wickets against them at a cost of only 13.88, including three five-wicket hauls.
"I'd be happy playing a different team, one that's not playing so well," said Vettori about Australia.
"New Zealand fans back home, their biggest game whenever we play is against Australia, and the Chappell-Hadlee series is vitally important to them," said Vettori.
"The series we played last year where we managed to win the first two games and draw the series, it felt pretty good back home. This opportunity is pretty big. We know we're up against it against a good Australian team, but if we do win there will be a happy four million people back home," he added.
The Aussies are not underestimating the Kiwis, who have reached the finals of this tournament without three first-choice players in Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder and Daryl Tuffey.
Australia has also been without a couple of integral players, in Michael Clarke and Nathan Bracken, but has barely missed them.
The defending champion crushed England by nine wickets to romp into the final as if turning back the clock to either of its two undefeated World Cup campaigns in 2003 and 2007.
While there was much talk of the danger posed to Australia by the subcontinental spinners, Vettori has quietly collected wickets with subtle changes in trajectory and pace, and took 3-43 against Pakistan before an innings of 41 from 42 balls - to help Elliott with the chase.
The Australians have obvious advantages. The captain, Ricky Ponting, is at the top of his game, as England discovered on Friday when he peeled off 111 in 115 balls. Shane Watson is the in-form all-rounder and the seamers have bowled with skill and discipline. (ANI)