Cricket World Cup 2011

Preview: SA vs New Zealand

2011-03-25 10:06
Robin Peterson and Johan Botha in training. (Getty)

Dhaka - The time has come for South Africa to face arguably their sternest test of character in their World Cup campaign, as they face a determined Kiwi outfit.

This is, to date, South Africa's most comprehensive entry into the knockout rounds at the World Cup, and they have looked by far and away the most complete unit at the showpiece event.

But, as in years past, the ominous 'C' word looms as the knockout stages take shape, and there are many supporters and detractors alike who are waiting with bated breath to see if the Proteas can shake off their ghost of World Cups past.

New Zealand, on the other hand, have had a campaign punctuated by above-par and above-expectation performances - the highlight of which was their comprehensive win over Pakistan, during which Ross Taylor blasted a huge hundred to kick-start his own campaign.

Captain Daniel Vettori is back in the mix against the Proteas, and he will hope that the Kiwis' 3-2 win/loss record against the South Africans in World Cup competition will remain intact, and improved upon come the end of the day's play.

Venue guide
Dhaka, Sher-e-Bangla stadium

Form guide
New Zealand LWWWL
South Africa WWWLW

Watch out for...

Imran Tahir may not be South Africa's leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far - that title belongs, surprisingly, to Robin Peterson - but his inclusion is symbolic of South Africa's new approach to limited-overs cricket.

He's also their first attacking wrist spinner in a cricketing generation, and should find conditions in Mirpur to his liking.

If New Zealand's top order can survive the early onslaught from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, Graeme Smith will turn to Tahir, confident in his ability to pick up cheap wickets with a variety of legspinners, sliders and wrong 'uns.

New Zealand have a couple of limited-overs stars in their ranks, such as Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder, but their strength as a team is their potential to gel and become more than the sum of their parts.

Their captain, Daniel Vettori, is the vital ingredient in that formula. Whether with bat, ball or in the field, Vettori seems to inspire by his very presence and as a seasoned cricketer he won't be intimidated by South Africa.

There have been hints that Vettori could give up ODIs after this tournament, giving him an added incentive to go out on a high.

Team news

South Africa (likely): Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Morne van Wyk (wk), Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir

New Zealand (likely): Brendon McCullum (wk), Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Daniel Vettori (capt), Tim Southee, Kyle Mills.

Pitch and conditions

Both teams will know just what to expect from the Mirpur wicket, and although Graeme Smith said that he was surprised by the amount of grass on the track, it should still play on the slow, low side and aid spinners.

Hot and humid weather is expected, and so dew could come into play if evening is cloudless, although its impact should be minimal.

Stats and trivia

South Africa and New Zealand have met 51 times in ODIs, with South Africa winning 30 to New Zealand's 17. Four of their matches have ended with no result. In World Cups, however, New Zealand have won three of the five matches the teams have played, and prevailed in both 2003 and 2007.

Jacques Kallis has more runs against New Zealand in ODIs than any other South African, having scored 1385 at 41.96, including three hundreds and nine fifties in 42 matches.

Tim Southee is New Zealand's leading wicket-taker in the tournament, with 14 scalps at 15.07. Ross Taylor leads their run-scoring table, with 245 at an average of 81.66 and a strike rate of exactly a-run-a-ball.


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