ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

New Zealand v Zimbabwe, Group A, World cup 2011, Ahmedabad

A match vital to quarter-final aspirations

The Preview by George Binoy

March 3, 2011

Comments: 17 | Text size: A | A

Match Facts

March 4, Ahmedabad
Start time 09.30 local time (0400 GMT)


Tatenda Taibu inspects his bats during practice, Ahmedabad, February 3, 2011
Tatenda Taibu examines his bats on the eve of Zimbabwe's best chance of making the quarter-final © AFP
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The Big Picture

The World Cup so far has been a tale of two groups. The teams comprising Group B have played five entertaining matches, bringing the tournament alive and adding intrigue. Group A, on the other hand, has been soporific, filled with one-sided contests decided early in the piece. It's crying out for some life, some drama. On Wednesday, two of its more nuggety teams will attempt to give it some at Motera.

New Zealand and Zimbabwe are ranked fourth and fifth in Group A. The first three teams, in all probability, are quarterfinal certainties. The last two don't have a prayer. New Zealand and Zimbabwe are level on points with one victory and one defeat each, separated only by net run-rate. Though Daniel Vettori's men will go into Friday's game as favourites - only because the majority doesn't fancy an upset - this is Zimbabwe's best chance. Floor New Zealand tomorrow and a knockout berth is tangible, with the hapless Kenyans in store. Lose, and the dream of qualification all but goes up in smoke.

The situation is similar for New Zealand as well, for they have been in wretched form against tough opponents. Beating Zimbabwe - as they are expected to - will leave them needing, in all probability, only one more victory with a game against Canada in hand. Slip, and they'll have to beat either Sri Lanka or Pakistan to make it past the group stage. New Zealand's quarter-final qualification would have either got much easier, or that much harder by this time tomorrow evening.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)

New Zealand: LWWLL
Zimbabwe: WLLLL

Watch out for...

In Ray Price, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer, Zimbabwe possess a slow-bowling attack capable of containing most batsmen, especially if the conditions are to their liking. They had Australia's top-order on a leash for the first half of their innings. That performance was at Motera as well. Price, if tested strategies are used, will bowl darts with the new ball. Martin Guptill, New Zealand's opener, is less at ease against spin. Will New Zealand give Brendon McCullum a new partner tomorrow? Their other batsmen, however, also prefer the ball coming on at pace. They are unlikely to get it. Zimbabwe's spinners will be New Zealand's banana skin, and they'll have to tread on it for a considerable period of time. How much assistance will New Zealand's bowling coach Allan Donald, who spent time coaching in Zimbabwe last year, be to their batsmen?

How long has it been since Ross Taylor entertained audiences with an innings filled with those pulls and slog-sweeps that dropped jaws? New Zealand would dearly love that blast from the past, but they will also settle for an unspectacular, calm and unifying innings from him. In theory, Taylor is New Zealand's most capable top-order batsman but evidence of that has been scarce in recent months. If they are to go far, or even just a step further, in this World Cup, Taylor will need to be substantial.

Team news

Chris Mpofu, Zimbabwe's new-ball bowler, was suffering from a side strain and did not train on Wednesday. He did train on Thursday, though, and is set to play. Charles Coventry failed in the first two matches and Terry Duffin is a replacement option, but Zimbabwe are unlikely to use him.

Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Brendan Taylor (wk), 2 Charles Coventry, 3 Tatenda Taibu, 4 Craig Ervine, 5 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 6 Sean Williams, 7 Greg Lamb, 8 Proper Utseya, 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Ray Price, 11 Chris Mpofu.

New Zealand's selection of Jamie How, a specialist opener, against Australia and then batting him at No. 7 as an insurance policy against the battery of fast bowlers, was questioned and criticised in the media. Especially when Jacob Oram was fit. Given that New Zealand will be tested by spin this time, will they retain How in the XI? The other question is whether Kyle Mills will play, and if so instead of whom? James Franklin failed at No. 5 against Australia and barely bowled. Hamish Bennett conceded 63 in seven overs but took two of the only three wickets to fall.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum (wk), 3 Jesse Ryder, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Franklin, 6 Scott Styris, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Daniel Vettori, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Hamish Bennett.

Pitch and conditions

The Motera pitch is likely to be slow and similar to the one that was used for the Zimbabwe-Australia game. The temperature in Ahmedabad will rise steadily as the day progresses.

Stats and trivia

  • New Zealand played Zimbabwe last in an ODI in August 2005. They won that by 27 runs. They lead the head-to-head record between the countries 19-7 with one tie and one no result.

  • Since New Zealand's one-day form begun to slump in August 2010, Taylor has averaged 24.73 in 17 innnings, with only three half-centuries and nine single-digit scores.

  • Price, Utseya and Cremer bowled a total of 96 dot balls in 30 overs against Australia, who were able to relieve pressure by hitting occasional boundaries later in the innings. New Zealand might have to protect against a succession of dot balls.

Quotes

"This is a must-win game for us on where we go in the tournament. Zimbabwe have played pretty well. We have seen a different set of tactics. Against Australia it was pace, we would see a lot of spin in this game."
Daniel Vettori is aware of what lies ahead for his batsmen.

"It is the most important game for us tomorrow to put us in the running [for the quarter-finals]. The guys have prepared well and hopefully we will bring the positives from the last game into tomorrow's game."
Elton Chigumbura, Zimbabwe's captain, knows how important this game is.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: George Binoy

© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

Comments: 17 
Posted by   on (March 4, 2011, 3:59 GMT)

Go Zim Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Kiwisupporter on (March 4, 2011, 3:35 GMT)

This game has got me worried... knowing NZ they'll lose today, then thrash Pakistan or Sri Lanka later on and still make the quarters...up and down, down and up. Still have faith in the boys though!

Posted by djdan on (March 4, 2011, 2:38 GMT)

Sean Ervine is the brother of Craig

Posted by   on (March 4, 2011, 1:23 GMT)

i think they put Sean Ervine instead of SC Williams by mistake since Craig Ervine is at 4 in both other games and SC Williams played at No.6 in both games.... Go NZ for the win easy!!

Posted by L.Pearce on (March 4, 2011, 0:42 GMT)

Sean Ervine = Sean Williams... 1.Taylor, 2.Coventry, *"3.Williams, 4.Taibu, 5.Ervine, 6.Lamb, 7.Chigumbura"*, 8.Utseya, 9.Cremer, 10.Price, 11.Mpofu. *"3-7"* please, please get this right. Also its about time Gregory Arthur Lamb was recognised alongside Price, Utseya, Cremer. He is a genuine allrounder and a key to Zimbabwe's spin bowling "quartet". Why do you think they couldnt finish off Australia.

Posted by Meety on (March 4, 2011, 0:28 GMT)

Like the Banga v Windies game, I don't know hwo to go for in this game. The Christchurch tragedy sways me to NZ, but I think Zim are underdogs & I'd like to see them perform well. This should be a surprisingly close tussle!

Posted by AARON.IFTEKHAR on (March 3, 2011, 23:45 GMT)

Tomorrow both matches would decide, who will qualify to the quarter-final - NZ or Zimbabwe, West Indies or Bangladesh / Ireland. Of course Group A is more predictable than Group B, where even England could be not qualified to play in Quarter-Final. Next Friday, March 11, the position of the Group B only will be clear. It may happen that Ireland, Bangladesh & West Indies will be the same points with 3 winning matches. Personally I hope Zimbabwe, Ireland & Bangladesh will play in QF.

Posted by Mushtanda on (March 3, 2011, 22:58 GMT)

NZ is going thru' to the quarters. No doubt about that. And on their way, they WILL beat Pakistan.

Posted by PowerBug on (March 3, 2011, 22:49 GMT)

Hopefully we have the first tight contest in Group A, there hasn't been one yet.

Posted by saldalillama on (March 3, 2011, 21:53 GMT)

Well, Craig Ervine can't bat both 4th and 6th now, can he?

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George BinoyClose
George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket
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