ICL: Indian Cricket League

South Africa rely on top-order to fire


South Africa will be looking to depose New Zealand at the top of the table with a victory in this Group E match. Having lost their only international encounter against this opposition almost two years ago, a better performance with the bat is what Graeme Smith will be hoping for especially with his team being restricted to 154 against England. Inclusion of Herschelle Gibbs, fitness permitting, will only benefit the home side in their quest for the final four.

New Zealand might well decide to rest a few aching bodies after their close win against England, especially a struggling Jacob Oram who took a knock on his left hand as he dropped a return catch. However, Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, will want nothing less than a win to take the momentum through to his team’s yet another semi-final appearance.

Bat play: South Africa’s top order, bar their last match, has been in great form. JP Duminy, opening in place of Gibbs, failed to score in his second match after an impressive tournament debut against Bangladesh. Much will rely, as always, on Smith, AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher before the power-hitting of Shaun Pollock and Justin Kemp steps in.

New Zealand’s top order, however, failed miserably in their final match and it came down to Craig McMillan and Scott Styris to play the rescue act. However, Ross Taylor, who already has a half-century against his name in the tournament, and Brendon McCullum have both played mini cameos in the opening round but will need decent support in what will be a tougher bowling attack.

Wrecking ball: Shaun Pollock has been in-form of late, picking up five wickets in the last two matches being as miserly as ever. Makhaya Ntini, while being expensive, has not been as successful though and it will be down to the likes of the Morkel brothers and Vernon Philander to provide support.

New Zealand have fast bowling problems of their own. Mark Gillespie, after a four-wicket haul in the opening match, has failed to pick any wickets. Shane Bond, although economical, was not penetrative in the last match while either Chris Martin or Jacob Oram look set to make way for Jeetan Patel, the offspinner, who will partner Vettori, the joint highest wicket-taker in the tournament.

Keep your eye on: Albie Morkel and his long-range efforts with the bat. Already boasting a few of the tournament’s longest hits, Morkel has a 20-ball 43 against his name and will fancy the pace of Gillespie and Bond to add to his tally of sixes.

Shop talk: According to Vettori: “It [captaincy in the Twenty20 game] is not easy … because you don’t know what you will run into. You might have the best of plans but they may all have to be discarded at the spur of the moment.” While he sits and plans the next match, Smith will know that his team really do not want to leave qualification for the semi-final for the last match against India and would want to wrap up things under the Durban sun.

Pitching it right: The Durban pitch has already witnessed two close encounters; Pakistan v India and England v New Zealand. It will be South Africa’s first match here and with conditions probably favouring pace and swing, the home team will want to make first use of it.


South Africa (probable) Graeme Smith (capt), Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers, Justin Kemp, Mark Boucher (wk), Vernon Philander, Shaun Pollock, Johan van der Wath, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini

New Zealand (likely) Lou Vincent, Brendon McCullum (wk), Peter Fulton, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori (capt), Shane Bond, Mark Gillespie, Jeetan Patel

Source:Cricket News

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