Napier: Daniel Vettori said Friday he was delighted at the prospect of becoming the first New Zealander to take 300 one-day international wickets, but his team's success at the World Cup meant more than individual records.
Vettori has taken 298 ODI wickets with his left-arm spin and should have the opportunity to join the elite 300 club when the Black Caps play Afghanistan in Napier on Sunday. Eleven players, none of them New Zealanders, have reached the milestone, including all-time leader Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan (534) and Wasim Akram of Pakistan (502), the only two men to have broken through the 500-wicket barrier.
Vettori, who has taken eight wickets so far at the World Cup, admitted he had given little thought to his one-day figures after a lengthy battle with back injury that threatened to end his career. Instead, he said he was focused on his Test figures -- he has 362 wickets and 4,531 runs and had hoped to eventually become the second player behind the great Kapil Dev to achieve the double of 400 Test wickets and 4,000 runs.
That now looks unlikely for Vettori, who is 36 and in the twilight of his career, but he said the Black Caps' strong run as World Cup co-hosts was inspiration enough. "I spent a long time thinking about those Test records and sometimes one-day cricket was put a little bit in the background, and I've come into this tournament thinking a little bit that way as well," he said. "Because of how we're progressing as a side and because it's been going so well, I haven't really thought about it, but it would be a lovely thing to achieve."
The former New Zealand skipper, who made his ODI debut in 1997, won plaudits when he came on against Australia last week and slowed their scoring dramatically, helping New Zealand to a nail-biting one-wicket win. "My role is to be complementary to our attacking bowlers... to me tie up the other end," he said.
"It's hard to do it all the time, so if I can allow those other guys to attack, that's really the role." Vettori was full of praise for the raucous support home fans have given the Black Caps, particularly during victories over England in Wellington and Australia in Auckland. "To play in front of that crowd in Wellington and hear the noise and hear the chanting during Tim(Southee's) spell, then to follow it up with the crowd in Auckland, the crowd was almost deafening there," he said. "It was one of the best experiences I've had in New Zealand stadiums. To live those two games was pretty special."
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