NZ hopes for giant-killing run at World Cup

Wellington, Feb 10 (AP) John Wright has an unwaveringbelief that his New Zealand squad can live up to itsreputation of producing shocking upsets at the World Cup,despite its poor recent form in the limited-overs arena.

Wins at the start and end of a 3-2 series loss toPakistan at home recently were New Zealand''s only twovictories in its last 16 limited-overs internationals.

In a troubling prelude to a World Cup on thesubcontinent, an 11-match drought before its first win overPakistan last month included a 5-0 series loss in India and a4-0 series loss in Bangladesh.

As its losing streak approached its record 13-matchwinless run in the mid 1990s, New Zealand seemed to have lostthe knack of winning one-day matches, something which it hadbeen able to draw on reliably even when its test formdeclined.

New Zealand''s first concern at the World Cup will be toclear the group round, not so easy given its recent propensityfor losing to lower-ranked teams.

That means avoiding loss against Zimbabwe, Kenya andCanada and then beating either of Australia, Sri Lanka orPakistan - all former World Cup winners - in Group A.

"That gets you to the next stage and then it''s a one offand that''s exciting because some of those teams have enormouspressure on them," Wright said. "If we can put it together onthe day, we can beat anyone."

An unsettled and underperforming top-order has frequentlyled to a lack of runs in recent times and a bowling attackwhich, with the loss of Shane Bond, was containing rather thanthreatening left New Zealand to fall back on its one regularstrength, the quality of its fielding.

Stephen Fleming''s retirement also deprived New Zealand ofexperience and tactical command, leaving an under-resourcedDaniel Vettori to find his way by trial and error. Vettori isnot the one-day tactician Fleming was, but New Zealand has inits corner at this World Cup a man with knowledge andexperience to help it transcend its recent form.

Wright brings to the New Zealand team the experience of aman who coached India to a World Cup final - admittedly withmuch better players than he currently has at his disposal -and whose five years coaching on the subcontinent will be toNew Zealand''s advantage.

However, the relationship between Wright and Vettori maybe problematic. Until Wright''s appointment last month, whichwas made largely to quiet public anger at the New Zealandteam''s persistently poor form, Vettori enjoyed almostunbridled power as captain, coach and selector. (MORE) AP SNK

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