Bond returns to revive struggling Kiwis
New Zealand's pace spearhead Shane Bond makes a comeback to official cricket after two years when he plays in a Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
Bond, 34, regarded as the best New Zealand fast bowler since Richard Hadlee, was delighted to be playing again for his country after snapping links with the unauthorized Indian Cricket League (ICL).
"It's been a long time coming and it's something I never thought would happen again," he said. "It feels like I am starting all over again."
Bond, who last played for New Zealand in November 2007, hoped he could meet the expectations from team-mates and fans alike on his highly-anticipated return.
"I think I set myself pretty high standards and it is up to me to meet those," he said. "I always strive to be the best bowler in the world, nothing's changed there."
Bond's fiery pace fetched him 79 wickets in 17 Tests, 125 from 67 One-Day Internationals and 12 in nine Twenty20 matches till he was banished for his ICL connections.
He was not picked for the preceding Test series which Sri Lanka swept 2-0, and warmed up instead by playing for New Zealand's 'A' team in India last month.
Black Caps captain Daniel Vettori warned against expecting the premier fast bowler to deliver immediate results.
"I can see the pressure building from a distance," said Vettori.
"People are viewing him as a sort of saviour to some recent woes, but I think we need to let Shane relax and build his way back into the team."
Vettori was confident his team would perform better in the two Twenty20 internationals on Wednesday and Friday, and the limited-overs tri-series also featuring India from September 8.
"I think the guys have a real belief in their own ability in the shorter forms of the game," he said. "I hope we will see a turnaround in our performances."
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, will be without star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who suffered a groin injury during the second Test last week and is being rested ahead of the tri-series.
The hosts, World Twenty20 finalists this year, have picked veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya and fast bowler Lasith Malinga for the two matches.
New Zealand (from): Daniel Vettori (capt), Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Jacob Oram, Neil Broom, Grant Elliott, Nathan McCullum, Peter McGlashan, Ian Butler, Shane Bond, Kyle Mills, Jeetan Patel.
Sri Lanka (from): Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Mahela Udawatte, Chamara Kapugedara, Gihan Rupasinghe, Angelo Mathews, Isuru Udana, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekera, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis, Kaushal Lokuarachchi.