15 Mar 2016

Black Caps face reality of life without Brendon McCullum

10:53 pm on 15 March 2016

Sports Call: Life without Brendon McCullum officially begins for the Black Caps tomorrow when their Twenty20 cricket world cup campaign begins in India.

The women's T20 tournament is being run in India at the same time with the White Ferns beginning their world cup campaign against Sri Lanka.

The tournament's draw, though, has done the Black Caps no favours - they play the tournament hosts first up in Nagpur.

McCullum's absence will cast a long shadow over the Black Caps.

Brendon McCullum is making his final appearance for the Black Caps at Eden Park.

The Black Caps are about to begin life without Brendon McCullum. Photo: Photosport

The only player to score two international T20 centuries, McCullum will be sorely missed by New Zealand, and new captain Kane Williamson accepts they will need time to adjust.

"There is naturally a transition when you lose a player, someone the calibre of Brendon, not only as a batsman but also as a leader but that's just the nature of (the game) and you look to move on and build on what we have already done. So that's the focus for us.

When it comes to big hitting, the hope is Auckland batsman Colin Munro can fill the void left by McCullum.

Munro seems to have found his feet in the international game recently, clubbing an unbeaten 14-ball 50 against Sri Lanka - the second fastest half century in T20 internationals.

Colin Munro

Colin Munro Photo: Photosport

"I haven't been told that I need to come in and fill the gap (left by McCullum). All I can do is come in and play my natural game and whether that's hit the ball for six or generating a strike rate at the top of the order then that's it.

"Twenty20 has huge luck involved. You can hit the ball out of middle and be caught on the fence or on other hand you might mis-hit and it goes over the inner ring for two and you do that a couple of times and you're underway," said Munro.

"It is so fickle that you can't really get too down or too up in terms of your performance because as soon as you go up and down you are not going to create the consistency of performance that you are after."

New Zealand has had a win over Sri Lanka and a loss to England in their two warm-up matches and they're currently ranked fourth in the world in T20 cricket - but they've struggled at the world tournament. Their best effort was a semi-final appearance at the inaugural event in 2007.

Also in their pool is Pakistan, Australia and Bangladesh, with the top two teams advancing to the semi finals.

Most sides have players with Indian Premier League experience including the the Black Caps, which means they won't be unfamiliar with local conditions but fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan knows coping with local crowds is a different proposition.

"Crowds over here are absolutely fanatical. They're phenomenal and so loud so it's going to be absolutely mental so that kind of atmosphere is going to build quite a bit of pressure on you so you have really got to embrace it and soak it up...and just hope that all the Indian fans when they are not supporting India support the Black Caps."

India are overwhelming favourites to win the tournament - the team is the current world number one, took the recent T20 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, and beat Australia 3-nil in a three-match T20 series earlier this year.

However India captain M S Dhoni knows though there are several variables that could undo his side.

India captain M S Dhoni

India captain M S Dhoni Photo: Photosport

"It's only been in the last few editions of the tournament that the home sides have won. So let's not say just because it is happening in India it belongs to India. Especially in the shorter format. The difference between the teams becomes smaller and smaller... so every team has a chance," said Dhoni.

The White Ferns have enjoyed more success at the world T20 tournament than their male counterparts, having finished runners-up twice (in 2009 and 2010) and coming third at the last event in 2012.

White Ferns captain Susie Bates

White Ferns captain Susie Bates Photo: Photosport

The White Ferns come into the 2016 tournament ranked third in the world and captain Susie Bates said recent success against world number ones and defending champions Australia is a boost.

"Managing to win that series 2-1 gives us a lot of confidence coming into this tournament," said Baties.

"We have been reasonably successful at Twenty20 with the New Zealand side but come up short twice is disappointing but we've got a few girls involved in those campaigns so the experience we've gained from a little bit of failure is always helpful going into a World Cup," she said.

Black Caps World Cup draw:

NZ v India, Wednesday March 16th, 3.00am.

NZ v Australia, Friday March 18th Dharamsala, 10.30pm.

NZ v Pakistan, Wednesday March 23rd, 3:00am, Mohali.

NZ v Bangladesh, Saturday March 26th, Kolkata, 10.30pm.

White Ferns World Cup draw:

NZ v Sri Lanka Women, Wednesday March 15th, Delhi, 3.00am.

NZ v Ireland, Friday March 18th, Mohali, 11:00pm.

NZ v Australia, Monday, Match 21st, 11pm.

NZ v South Africa, Sunday March 27th, Bengaluru, 3.00am.