Cricket World Cup 2011

Kiwis face SA 'unknowns'

2011-03-24 15:01
Faf du Plessis (Gallo Images)

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – World Cup quarter-final opponents New Zealand will be notably lacking in first-hand experience of the South African one-day international bowling attack, particularly, when they lock horns in Dhaka on Friday.

This is partly because the two nations have not met at all often in recent times (the last ODI series between them was a three-match one in South Africa in late 2007, won 2-1 by the hosts) but also a reflection of how much the Proteas team has changed just in the past few months or so.

Much talk around the South Africans at this World Cup, of course, has revolved around their warm embracement of spin.

And if the Proteas do go the likely route of fielding all of Imran Tahir, Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, the Black Caps will know less about them collectively than many other international teams do.

Even Botha, the most experienced of the trio, has only played four of his 73 ODIs against New Zealand. Peterson’s 46 caps also include a mere four against these opponents, whilst leg-spinner Tahir would only be earning his fifth SA cap (all at this tournament) if he plays at the Shere Bangla National Stadium.

Possible part-time tweakers JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis wouldn’t offer familiar aspects to the Kiwis, either – the former has played four times against them from 77 ODIs but not bowled, and Du Plessis will be a newcomer to New Zealand in all respects.

And it is not as though the South African seamers boast a whole heap of activity against the Black Caps – fast bowling spearhead Dale Steyn’s 53 caps include a flimsy two against this side.

Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, meanwhile, sport a combined total of 63 ODI appearances, yet neither has played even once against the Kiwis yet.

The only bowler several of New Zealand’s stalwarts will know reasonably well is 313-cap all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who has opposed them on 42 occasions and taken 34 wickets at 29.79.

Currently peripheral squad member Wayne Parnell is highly unlikely to play, although his lone appearance against the Kiwis saw him grab five for 57 (and the player-of-the-match award) the last time these foes met, at Centurion in the Champions Trophy on September 24 2009.

The Proteas won by a comfortable enough five wickets then.

Naturally South Africa fielding several relative greenhorns means return on-field knowledge of the Black Caps is in some short supply too, although New Zealand’s own crucial spin exponent, captain Daniel  Vettori, is extremely well known to the likes of Proteas batsmen Kallis, Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers.

His 36 caps against the South Africans in a 270-cap career means he is no mystery factor to most of the Proteas’ specialist batsmen.


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