NZ can rise to challenge - McCullum
New Zealand may have arrived in South Africa with a relatively inexperienced Twenty20 (T20) international squad but recently-appointed captain Brendon McCullum believes that his team is capable of rising to the challenge of beating the Proteas in their own backyard.
The Black Caps play three T20 internationals against South Africa with the first match at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban on December 21 and they will have to do it without the likes of all-rounder Daniel Vettori (injured), batsman Ross Taylor (unavailable) and paceman Tim Southee (birth of a child).
But McCullum is confident that his team will be able to provide South Africa with a stern challenge especially after the hosts opted to rest a host of senior players for the T20 series.
“They (South Africa) have got some inexperienced guys coming in, a change of captain as well from their point of view and resting some of their big players too. It gives us a few positives to be able to head into this series knowing that if we do put them under pressure and hopefully be able to come out on top,” McCullum told a news conference in Durban on Friday.
The Proteas have called up new caps wicketkeeper batsman Quinton de Kock, left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso and all-rounder Chris Morris. There is also a change in the leadership group with Faf du Plessis named as skipper and Russell Domingo coaching the team in place of Gary Kirsten.
However, McCullum was quick to play down suggestions that the Proteas would be too distracted by the changes.
“We know that they are still going to possess some very South African traits. They are going to be uncompromising, incredibly fit and very disciplined. We are going to have to look at their strengths and weaknesses and try and come up with a plan to try and compete firstly and then come out on the right side of the result,” he explained.
New Zealand have named five new caps in their 15-man squad. They are batting allrounders Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham and Corey Anderson, left-arm quick Mitchell McClenaghan and wicketkeeper/batsman Derek de Boorder.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said that the tour represented a chance for the new players to build a reputation for themselves on the international stage.
“We have five guys making their debut and they will play during this tour. They are keen to get their opportunity and with opportunity we will find out how good they are.
“You try to win every series you go in to. We have three T20s against South Africa and we have got an exciting squad but it is important that the guys have the chance to go out there and express themselves. If we do that well we will certainly be putting South Africa under pressure,” said Hesson.