Elated after managing to "surprise" India with consistent performances, New Zealand all-rounder Nathan McCullum said on Thursday that his team will aim for a 4-0 result in the ongoing ODI series by going full throttle in the inconsequential fifth and final match in Wellington on Saturday. (Very difficult for India to defend World Cup: Sunil Gavaskar)
At the same time, McCullum stated that the hosts will be wary of a backlash in the final match ahead of the crucial two-Test series starting in Auckland on February 6. "I guess the Indian team has been surprised with how consistent we have been. But they have still played some fantastic cricket. We have just seen a great ODI series here and that's fantastic for one-day cricket and very exciting for international cricket," McCullum told reporters in Wellington. (Mohammed Azharuddin critical of Shikhar Dhawan's technique)
"They will be quite hurt with the way we have taken things away from them at certain points but they are not too far away from performing at their best. So they probably have to give us a bit of credit as well for fantastic performances throughout the series," he opined. (Ross Taylor reveals NZ tactic of not giving away wickets to Indian spinners)
The hosts have sealed the series with victories in Napier and Hamilton (twice), while tying the third ODI in Auckland. "When we first set out to play this series, we thought a win would be really fantastic," said McCullum.
"But the way we have played this series, to be as consistent as we have, 4-0 will be a fantastic result. If we play as well as we have done the result will be irrelevant." (Furious MS Dhoni urges fast bowlers to 'use their heads')
McCullum said the Kiwis have been a tad casual in their approach in the years gone by but that is changing for the better now.
"If you look at previous years of New Zealand cricket, we have seen a lackadaisical approach where we have lost a few games wherein we have wanted to win them. So this is not only an opportunity for us to win the series 4-0, but also to be consistent and that is the theme of the side at the moment. New Zealand have done well against South Africa, England and India in the last calendar year, giving them immense confidence in this 2015 World Cup build-up year, a fact highlighted by McCullum.
"There are a lot of positives about the way we are going about our game at the moment. The other day we chased down a good total on a wicket that is pretty tough in New Zealand in terms of spin bowling."
"It does help when you are put through different situations because you are still playing three facets of the game, and you want to do well with the bat and the ball, while also doing well in the field," McCullum said.
"Apart from that one loss or one tie, we have been pretty consistent. And we have been trying to improve so that is pretty good team environment at the moment. If we can get to that World Cup after showing that we can be very consistent over a period of time then that will be the right message we can send out," he added.
From a personal point of view, it hasn't been a particularly successful series for the all-rounder. Even as the Indian batsmen have struggled against short bowling, they have overcome his off-breaks with ease, giving away only one wicket in the process.
"Obviously they are very good players of spin, facing such bowling everyday on tougher wickets than here. They like to attack spin bowling and it has been a great challenge playing against the Indian batsmen in my own backyard and on wickets that don't really turn a lot, with short boundaries as well. It's been a hell of a challenge but I have really enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to tomorrow as well," he said.
The other flavour of the month here is the upcoming IPL auction. While Ross Taylor and his elder brother Brendon McCullum should invite good bids at the event, one man who has caught everyone's attention is Corey Anderson. He has been given a base price of Rs. 1.2 crore, but is expected to fetch a lot more. "Anderson is a young guy, and he has shown some immense talent. He is learning a lot as he is going along as well. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if there are a number of guys who are picked up or targeted. Anyone that bowls, bats or fields well has a reasonable chance in that sort of an environment. When you do that, fruits come for people who are doing things right," McCullum signed off.