Sports
NZ loss may force boycott reassessment - Fleming

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa, Feb 10 (Reuters) - New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said his team’s defeat by Sri Lanka on Monday might force a change of mind about boycotting their World Cup Group B match in Kenya.

Fleming said the New Zealand players were still confident their cricket board would make the right decision and would not try to influence them either way, even if it cost the team a place in the next stage of the tournament.

"The situation with Kenya is that the process is still underway," Fleming said after his team’s 47-run loss.

"It’s an obvious thing to look at as the side loses and more pressure goes on...but we trust that the right decision will be made by New Zealand Cricket and we’ve got total confidence in them."

New Zealand’s defeat by Sri Lanka means they will probably have to win each of their four remaining pool games to make the Super Six phase if, as indicated, they forfeit the match in Kenya because of security concerns.

The game in Nairobi is due to be played on February 21 but a final decision on whether it will be played or possibly switched to South Africa is still pending.

World Cup executive director Ali Bacher said on Monday that he still hoped New Zealand could be persuaded to play in Kenya.

"It’s pretty much a day by day development," Fleming said, admitting his team’s defeat may have clouded the issue.

"We have built up for a long time for this first game and we would love to have won it. It’s not the end of our campaign by any means but it certainly makes it a lot tougher and the next two games are extremely tough games so we’re going to have bounce back well and play positive cricket."

Fleming confessed he had made two mistakes, giving Sri Lanka first use of a pitch that proved ideal for batting and leaving out spinner Daniel Vettori, but thought nerves had played a bigger part in his team’s comprehensive defeat.

"It was a pretty big day and part of controlling the day is controlling your nerves and I don’t think we did that in either innings," he said.

"It was a hesitant start. We needed to start well and we didn’t. Now we’ve got to reassess our tactics and go back to the drawing books."

While New Zealand’s bowlers were pounded by Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya, whose 120 earned him the man of the match award, and the Kiwi top order crumbled, the one positive was the performance of Scott Styris, who smashed a career best 141.

The 27-year-old scored almost two-thirds of his team’s total of 225, clubbing six sixes, including three from the bowling of off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

"It’s a bit of a hollow feeling because this was a game that we wanted to win to set us up for the rest of the tournament," Styris said.

"It was a pretty good innings and I’m pleased with it but it’s disappointing we didn’t come away with the result."


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