Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  

Vettori wishes no slips

New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori wants a vastly improved performance from his inexperienced bowling attack in Sunday's one-dayer against Sri Lanka.

The tourists cantered to an easy seven wicket victory in the opening match in Napier on Thursday, overhauling New Zealand's 285-8 with 10 overs to spare.

Veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya did most of the damage, smashing 111 runs from just 82 balls against a wayward attack missing most of New Zealand's frontline bowlers.

Vettori, who is replacing regular captain Stephen Fleming for the first two one-dayers in the five match series, told reporters Saturday that New Zealand's bowling attack needed to get the basics right.

"The bowling plan is exactly the same, it's just about the implementation, which we let slip in Napier," he said.

"Sri Lanka bat down to seven and eight, so you've got to take wickets at the top and try not to buy those wickets, which we tended to do in the first game."

Another potential hurdle for the home side could be the loss of experienced batsman Nathan Astle, who suffered bad bruising to his thigh as he returned to form with 83 runs in the series opener.

After a shaky start, Astle grew in confidence and controlled the tempo of the New Zealand innings, passing the milestone of 7,000 one-day international runs before being unluckily run out.

"If we lose that experience and we lose that form it's going to mean someone is going to have to step up to cover it," Vettori said.

James Marshall, who was out first ball in Napier, is likely to step into Astle's opening spot if the 35-year-old is ruled unfit to play in Queenstown.

The final teams for the match will be announced on Sunday morning.

In contrast to New Zealand's decision to rest some top players such as Fleming and star pace bowler Shane Bond for the early matches, Sri Lanka wants its top combination together for the lead up to March's World Cup.

Skipper Mahela Jayawardene is not expecting significant changes to the side which took the honours in the first international.

"We have to keep a combination, we need to keep confidence in the guys and have the senior group -- the matchwinners -- intact and in form as we build up to the World Cup," Jayawardene said.