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Shirin Sadikot in Mohali

SL camp was valuable: McCullum

Volts skipper believes his young team is ready for CLT20 challenge

Of the four teams in the Karbonn Smart Champions League T20 2013 Qualifiers, three are from the subcontinent. Competing as the lone outside team is New Zealand’s Otago Volts. In an attempt to reduce the disadvantage of conditions that face them, the Volts had a practice camp in Sri Lanka ahead of the CLT20.

While speaking with the media at the team’s welcome press conference, skipper Brendon McCullum and coach Vaughn Johnson, sounded highly satisfied with their preparations. They were also confident of overcoming the odds and making the main draw of the tournament.

“We had a preparation camp in Sri Lanka where we got used to the conditions and it was great, especially for the guys who hadn’t been in the subcontinent before,” McCullum said, and the coach seconded him by saying, “We played four full matches in Sri Lanka and the guys did a pretty good job of handling the heat and humidity there.”

This will be the Volts’ second shot at CLT20 glory, after they crashed out of the 2009 season by losing their first two matches.
McCullum, who was a senior member of the side then, looked back at that season as a learning experience and ensured that the players are much wiser and better prepared this time.

“I think 2009 was a great experience for us. It was the first time that a lot of our guys had toured outside New Zealand and had to play in totally alien conditions. We couldn’t perform to the level at which we hoped to but we still had some competitive moments through that tournament.
“Fast forward a few years, and we now have a team that is a different mix of players. We have played a lot of cricket back home leading into this tournament. We were successful in our domestic competition last year and were the deserved champions. We come here with momentum and what we think is a competitive side,” the captain said.

What will also be different for the Volts this time is the addition of a hurdle they need to skip before they can participate in the tournament proper. Unlike in 2009, this time they will have to first get past the Qualifiers. MCCullum acknowledged the magnitude of the challenge, but also weighed in his team’s positives.

“This is a tough Qualifiers round. Look at all the teams; they are all good on the paper. We know it is going to be tough for us to get past the Qualifiers, but we also know that if we do make it to the main tournament, we will go with a good head start. We will have the confidence that comes with making progress after overcoming tough opponents.”

The dashing Kiwi wicketkeeper-batsman also felt that playing the Qualifiers matches on the lively Mohali track will benefit the Volts.
“In the Qualifiers you’ve got three teams from the subcontinent and one from New Zealand. I think if we’re playing outside of Chandigarh, we’ll probably be underdogs. But since here the wicket is slightly faster and bouncier than the normal Indian tracks, we can be confident that we have the right team to exploit the conditions,” the skipper said, adding that the team had done all they could to prepare the batsmen for the spin bowling challenge.

“In Sri Lanka we played on some spin-friendly wickets and our batsmen seemed to stand up to the challenges reasonably well. I know it’s challenging for the western teams to play spin bowling, but we believe we have ticked off the preparation well and time will tell if we were spot on or not.”

While he, along with his brother Nathan, are clearly the most experienced members of the Volts’ squad, McCullum is confident that the unknown players will stand up to the CLT20 challenge.

“It’s not just Nathan and myself; we have a few other guys with experience. There are some guys who have played the IPL as well as those who have toured the subcontinent before with the New Zealand team.

“We’re probably not one of the fancy teams from others’ viewpoint, but we have the confidence that we have the experience and the youthfulness to make an impact in this tournament,” McCullum said.

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