South Africa v New Zealand, Group E, Durban

South Africa rely on top-order to fire

The Preview by Faras Ghani

September 18, 2007

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South Africa v New Zealand, Durban, Wednesday September 19, 1400 local time (1200 GMT)



New Zealand would want Shane Bond to be more penetrative this time © Getty Images
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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, Graeme Smith will be hoping for a better performance with the bat, especially with his team being restricted to 154 against England. Herschelle Gibbs' inclusion, fitness permitting, will only benefit the home side in their bid to make the semis.

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 while dropping a return catch. However, Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, will want nothing less than a win to take the momentum through to yet another semi-final appearance for his team.

Bat play: South Africa's top order has, bar their last match, 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 depend, 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 to 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 while being as miserly as ever. Makhaya Ntini has not been as successful 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.

Teams

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

Faras Ghani is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo

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