McCullum looking to spin to win
Friday 21 Dec 2012 3:14 p.m.
New Zealand's spin trio look set to play a key role in the first Twenty20 international against South Africa on a distinctly dry surface in Durban.
Normally a hard, fast pitch, the Kingsmead groundsmen have forced new captain Brendon McCullum to put his thinking cap on ahead of the match on Saturday (NZT).
McCullum is likely to field all three spinners at his disposal - Ronnie Hira, Nathan McCullum and Rob Nicol.
A harder decision will be the seam attack makeup.
Pace bowler Mitchell McClenghan impressed in his New Zealand debut in their 24-run warmup defeat of South Africa A in Pietermaritzburg this week.
Yet his spot is under pressure from Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell, who weren't picked for that match,
"Mitchell took some early wickets and allowed our spinners to get into the game early against the middle order trying to settle," McCullum said of the tour-opening win.
"A pretty good blueprint in any Twenty20 game is to take early wickets, get your spinners into the game early, try and dry the run rate up, apply pressure through your fields and then see what happens in the back-end of the innings.
"That will be a tactic we'll look at employing tomorrow if it is a slower wicket than we anticipated initially."
McCullum was handed the captaincy after predecessor Ross Taylor's controversial demotion this month.
A disgruntled Taylor withdrew from the tour, leaving McCullum to lead an inexperienced group, beginning with a three-match T20 series against a similarly raw-looking South African side who have a new coach in Russell Domingo.
McCullum said newcomers McClenaghan, Corey Anderson, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham and Derek de Boorder had settled well.
"They're enthusiastic and they possess some really good skills, which is great. It's quite nice to have brought them all in at the same time so they can try to find their feet as one rather than try to feel their way on their own," McCullum said.