Johannesburg: New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming raised the stakes ahead of Friday's must-win World Cup clash against India by reminding his rivals of the drubbing it received three months ago.Saurav Ganguly's men were thrashed 2-0 in the Tests and 5-2 in the One-dayers on the tour of New Zealand in December-January amidst complaints of poor wickets heavily tilted in favour of the bowlers.
But the Indians have put aside the disappointment of that tour to win seven of their eight World Cup matches so far and book a place in the semi-finals alongside Australia.The Kiwis, meanwhile, allowed Australia to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at Port Elizabeth and must now defeat India at the Centurion on Friday to keep their semi-final hopes alive.Fleming, however, was unconcerned about the terrific form shown by the Indians at the tournament."They'll be confident but sometimes that can be a weakness. Hopefully we can open up some of the wounds we opened in New Zealand," Fleming said.
The Kiwis allowed Australia to recover from a blistering spell by fearsome fast bowler Shane Bond who grabbed 6 for 23 to reduce the reigning champions to their knees at 84 for 7.But Michael Bevan and Andy Bichel, Australia's saviours against England, saved their side again with defiant half-centuries that lifted the score to 208 for 9 before the Kiwis were shot out for 112."We had a pretty good start, but then ran out of juice," Fleming said.
"We needed a partnership because you can knock off the total with some good partnerships but it didn't happen for us."We made 80 per cent of the match when we got them early but the other 20 per cent did not go our way."Fleming said his side should not have allowed Bevan and Bichel to get away."We should have knocked them over for a hundred. You walk away after a partnership like that and think 'what if?'"They played well and we just couldn't grab the final few wickets.
"Fleming, who gambled by bowling out Bond by the 29th over, admitted, "We ran out of ammo. When you use up your resources you rely on your second and third bowlers and the guys didn't quite deliver."Maybe it comes about with a bit of anxiety playing against Australia."We needed one substantial partnership to win the match and we didn't get it. It was bad batsmanship more than anything."Fleming, however, would not let the Indians, or anyone, forget Bond's magnificent bowling.
"I feel delighted for him," the captain said of his premier fast bowler."On a losing day, you have got to keep it in perspective. It was a fine spell and it shouldn't be pushed aside because we lost the game."Bond's figures were the best by a New Zealander in One-day history and joint fifth on the list of World Cup bowling performances."I think we should celebrate it," Fleming said.Fleming now needs Bond on Friday to counter Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar, the leading run-getter at this World Cup with 571 runs, and the rest of the star-studded batting.Copyright AFP 2001