| Ricky Ponting at the nets in Pune on Sunday
Pune: New Zealand got a big boost when Chris Cairns was ruled fit for the crucial TVS Cup one-day tri-series tie versus Australia here on Monday
Cairns, who pulled his hamstring during New Zealand’s rain-abandoned tri-series opener against India in Chennai, missed the team’s second match against Australia in Faridabad on Wednesday.
“Cairns is fully fit,” New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming said on the eve of the match.
However, the Black Caps were hit with a fresh injury blow with right-arm medium fast bowler Paul Hitchcock being ruled out of Monday’s match.
But more than fitness worries, Fleming’s own form is troubling him. “It has been frustrating personally for me on this tour. Hopefully I will strike form in tomorrow’s match which is very crucial to us,” he said.
Fleming, who was left ruing a wrong decision to bat first in the Faridabad match, said the toss would be very important given the nature of the wicket at the Nehru Stadium. “I am pretty nervous about the toss as the wicket is pretty heavy after the showers in the last couple of days.
Fleming said the playing eleven would be decided only after taking another look at the wicket on Monday. “The outfield too looks heavy, so let us wait and see,” he said.
Asked about his side’s chances of beating the Aussies, Fleming said “If we can get a big score on the board, we can put pressure on the opposition and pull off a win.”
Paying rich compliments to Aussie opening batsmen Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, Fleming said, “They are very dangerous batsmen and can tear any bowling apart.However, we will be approaching the match with a positive mind and try to win as we need it to stay in the tournament,” he added.
Fleming also had a word of praise for young Aussie seamers Nathan Bracken and Brad Williams saying they had been shaping up well despite being a bit inexperienced.
The Australian team, riding high after a 77-run thrashing of India in a day-night match in Mumbai on Saturday, decided to take rest today and most of them did not have net practice.
Coach John Buchanan said his players were tired after the game. “Last night’s win has put the boys in a good mood and I think they deserve a well earned rest today. However, we are not taking tomorrow’s tie easily because it is a very crucial match for us even though we are leading the points table with 13 points,” he said.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Michael Bevan, Ian Harvey, Brad Hogg, Andy Bichel, Brad Williams, Nathan Bracken, Jimmy Maher and Michael Clarke.
New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (captain), Lou Vincent, Craig McMillan, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Chris Nevin, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, Ian Butler and Paul Hitchcock.