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    Styris seeks improvement at World Cup

    New Zealand has won only two of its last 14 ODI series matches since October.

    Chennai: New Zealand's players are ready to put their recent one-day disappointments firmly behind them and get back to winning ways at the World Cup, according to all-rounder Scott Styris.

    New Zealand has won only two of its last 14 ODI series matches since October, slumping first to a 4-0 defeat in Bangladesh before a 5-0 whitewash in India and then a 3-2 loss to Pakistan at home.

    However, Styris believes a team that will give some of its younger players their chance to perform on the biggest stage is ready to face Group A rivals Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Canada.

    "It doesn't get any bigger than this, a World Cup in the subcontinent," Styris told a news conference on Monday. "Cricket is the heartbeat here and the atmosphere will be electrifying... It's my favorite place to tour and I have also performed well in these conditions.

    "We have been struggling of late but have beaten all the teams before. And we believe we are up to the challenge of doing it again."

    Batsman Brendon McCullum echoed Styris' sentiments and was also one of several players to pay tribute to new coach and former captain John Wright, who took charge in December.

    McCullum, one of most experienced one-day players in New Zealand's 15-man squad, is bound to come under pressure to deliver as a top-order batsman in what many believe will be a tournament for big-hitters when the event, co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, gets underway on February 19.

    "The previous two World Cups I played down the order (where) you've got reasonably limited opportunities to create an impact," he said. "That's why I'm absolutely determined to play a role at the top of the order. Coming to India, the best time to bat is when the ball is new.

    "I've had four years of batting at the top of the order now... and I will focus on trying to play some influential innings throughout the tournament."

    Wright, who will be able to draw on his local knowledge after being India's coach for five years, has clearly given his players a lift — helped in part by a victory over Ireland in Saturday's warm-up game.

    The aim now is to focus on the games ahead, rather than the recent dismal run.

    "John has been of great help in our preparations," McCullum said. "We noticed we struggled during big moments. He has built on the confidence of every player. We started believing in continuously winning games.

    "We have an indifferent record in the subcontinent in the past six months. Once the World Cup gets underway, that's the moment we have got to concentrate. It's a pretty exciting opportunity for the players."