Cricket World Cup 2011

NZ eye quarters in Zim clash

2011-03-03 08:57
Zimbabwe's Ray Price could be a major factor. (AFP)

Ahmedabad - New Zealand will be desperate to boost their World Cup quarter-final hopes with a convincing win over Zimbabwe in a crunch clash on Friday.

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The Kiwis cantered to a 10-wicket victory over lowly Kenya in their opening match, before going down to Australia by seven wickets in a manner unworthy of their reputation as a doughty one-day side.

Zimbabwe suffered a 91-run defeat at the hands of holders Australia, but regrouped in time to thrash Canada by a 175-run margin in their second Group A clash on Monday.

With one defeat and a win apiece, New Zealand and Zimbabwe are tied on two points and trail Pakistan and Australia who have four points each from two matches.

Sri Lanka also have four points but they have played three games, winning two and losing one.

Zimbabwe thrived on fine performances by their spinners against Canada, and will look to rattle the spin-wary Kiwis with a similar plan.

The African nation is one of the few teams in the competition with a spin-heavy attack which has come good so far on the sub-continental wickets.

Led by the veteran Raymond Price, Zimbabwe spinners did well to restrict Australia to 262-6 and bowl out Canada for 123 off 42.1 overs.

"Australia attacked us with pace and we are going to see a lot of spin in this game," said New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori. "So it is an exciting challenge for us, but one we have to win.

"It's important for us to counter all their spinners. Price does a good job at the start and we've got to be ready for it. The fact that we have not played them for a long time is probably a little bit of disadvantage for us.

"But what we have seen of them in the last two games we are pretty sure of what we will come up against."

New Zealand will also be keen to nail their final team combination ahead of potentially tougher games against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The Kiwis erred in their selection against Australia, picking young Hamish Bennett ahead of a fit Kyle Mills, and bringing opener Jamie How down at number seven in place of proven all-rounder Jacob Oram.

Bennett picked up two wickets but was carted for 63 runs in seven overs and How managed 22 in a below-par New Zealand batting performace.

Apart from selection woes, New Zealand have also their batting to worry about.

Among the top six batsmen, only Jesse Ryder showed some character in making 25 off 31 balls as New Zealand collapsed to 73-6 against Australia before a late rally by Nathan McCullum and Vettori took the total to 206.

"It wasn't a good performance," said New Zealand coach John Wright.

"It started with the bat. You've got to get to the 35-over mark with a maximum of three down. If we'd had wickets left we should have been able to get to a competitive 280 or 300."

Price said he was relishing the challenge of bowling against the Kiwis at the start of the innings.

"I am always itching to bowl, it doesn't matter if it is the start or the end," said Price.

"It would be a good challenge for me because Brendon McCullum hits the ball a long way. They have got some good players, so it is going to be very difficult for me."


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