SA in New Zealand

Napier pitch excites AB

2012-02-28 14:45
AB De Villiers (Gallo)

Cape Town – South Africa will try to go for the one-day international series kill against New Zealand on Wednesday on a pitch that may not differ too much from the Wanderers back home.

The Proteas lead one-nil entering the second of three ODIs (03:00 SA time) and by all accounts McLean Park in Napier ought to be an unusual belter by Kiwi standards.

In a Cricket South Africa audio release of his captain’s press conference ahead of the game, AB De Villiers said the venue had a “hard pitch ... rock hard”.

He added: “It’s the hardest (one) I’ve tapped in this country yet, by a long way.”

De Villiers anticipates a potentially high-scoring affair - in line with the ground’s reputation - on a good one-day strip which may offer some bounce to his tall seamers like Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe but not necessarily much in the way of seam movement, which makes a change from most other New Zealand pitches.

He also hinted heavily that the Proteas would go in with the same XI which saw off the Black Caps by six wickets on Saturday.

“It’s tough to make changes when you are winning; we’ll probably pretty much go with the same combination.”

That may be dependent on the fitness of top-order batsmen Graeme Smith, who has been nursing a “stiff and sore” arm, and Hashim Amla who has a cold; De Villiers nevertheless fancies both to take their places.

Asked about his non-usage of all-rounder Albie Morkel in a bowling capacity in the victory at Wellington, the skipper said it was purely down to on-the-day circumstance.

“It’s not that I don’t back Albs ... things just worked out that way (at Westpac Stadium).

“Every time I considered using Albie something else just came up.”

De Villiers also praised the economy of main spinner Robin Peterson - the left-armer conceded only 45 runs in his full 10 overs for two wickets - in Wellington, considering that he had tended to bowl at unfavourable times from a run-tempo point of view.

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