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Black Caps vow to take game serious

Source - iol.co.za

New Zealand learnt some valuable lessons when they played the first-ever 20-overs-a-side International in Auckland earlier this year, so they are taking Friday night's match against South Africa at the Wanderers very seriously.

New Zealand learnt some valuable lessons when they played the first-ever 20-overs-a-side International in Auckland earlier this year, so they are taking Friday night's match against South Africa at the Wanderers very seriously. There was plenty of frivolity from the Black Caps at Eden Park on February 17.

To celebrate the inaugural Twenty20 International against neighbours Australia, they wore retro hairstyles and funny facial hair and were dressed in the original coloured clothing, that horrible beige-brown ensemble given to them for the World Series back in the early 1980s. "We treated it as a bit of fun, the Australians treated it as an opportunity to begin the winning habit over their opposition," New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris said on Tuesday. He top-scored for the hosts with 66 (off 39 balls) in a 44-run defeat.

It's a lesson the Black Caps don't need to be taught again as they prepare for Friday's Standard Bank Pro20 International, the first match of its kind to be played in South Africa. "The sooner you get on top of your opponents and start winning against them, the harder it is for them to climb back up. So it's very important that we win on Friday to work towards our goal of winning the one-day series," Styris explained.

The 30-year-old, who was born in Brisbane, said the hamstring problem that's been bugging him since the tourists arrived last week was getting better and he was looking forward to taking the field at the Wanderers. Styris said the injury only really surfaced when he was bowling. "I was really pleased I got a bowl in the middle and got up to close to 100 percent."

He proved more than a minor irritation for the South Africans when they toured New Zealand in 2004 as his aggregate of 224 runs in the Black Caps' 5-1 victory in the limited-overs series was second only to skipper Stephen Fleming's 264.

"That was probably my best series. I haven't hit the ball as well since," he said. "Why that is, I'm not sure. I'll be looking to do as well again. The good thing about that series was that we had about six or seven guys who were all producing match-winning performances. That's why we had a successful time."

The state of the pitches at this early stage of the South African summer may play a role in the outcome of the five-match Standard Bank one-day series starting in Bloemfontein on Sunday. "If the series is played on slower pitches, I think that will work in our favour. It is something we will look to exploit," said Styris.

However, with a bowler like Shane Bond, who gets the ball up to the 150km/h mark, in their squad, the Black Caps have a team that will be comfortable in any conditions, slow pitch or not.

"We've got a lot of players who are suited to playing on different sorts of wickets. That's why we have had so much success in the one-day game in the last 18 months," Styris said. The South Africa side will have their first training session on Wednesday.

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