Ponting wants slowcoach Kallis in early
Ricky Ponting is hoping for a quick wicket in Wednesday's semi-final because he believes Jacques Kallis will score more slowly than the openers. While admitting Kallis is one of the world's best batsmen, Ponting wrote in his column in The Australian they have plans to restrict him in St Lucia.
Kallis was criticised after scoring 48 from 63 balls in the group-stage loss to Australia in St Kitts after Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers swept South Africa to 160 in 21 overs. "We feel [the openers] are the key to their chances," Ponting said. "But if we can get Kallis in there early, I don't think they can get off to the same sort of start.
"He is a very good player and has a great overall record, averaging 45.68 in one-day cricket, but against us it's not so great. I feel we have also had the better of him in Tests. If we get our plans right to him, we can restrict him. We all know that if we bowl a certain way and put him under pressure, we can keep him reasonably quiet."
Ponting has noticed Kallis, who has 480 runs at 96 in the tournament, has been playing more shots since the Australia game, "which may have been the result of a rev-up from their coaching staff". "Those runs, though, have come against bowling attacks that haven't had the pace of a Shaun Tait reverse-swinging the ball," he said. "The new ball is going to be key in this game."
Ponting also said Matthew Hayden might try a "repeat act" on Shaun Pollock, who went for 83 runs in ten overs in the previous encounter. "If we can take down the opposition's experienced players, especially in their bowling line-up, like Matty took to Pollock, then that puts extra pressure on other guys around them," he said.
South Africa are deciding how they will use Pollock after he went for the worst figures of his career. "We have a plan with [Pollock]," the coach Mickey Arthur said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "I suspect he will take the new ball, but if there's nothing happening, we will probably whip him off early and go for the pace of [Andre] Nel. It's something we learnt from the last game."
Arthur hinted that Makhaya Ntini could sit out, owing to his ordinary form, with South Africa going in with an unchanged bowling line-up. "With Makhaya one knows what you are going to get because he bowls inswingers," Arthur was quoted in Supercricket. "Therefore, there is no surprise element for the batsman. We have André Nel and his aggression, Shaun Pollock's ability to limit the scoring and our two top wicket-takers, Charl [Langeveldt] and Andrew Hall."
Arthur said South Africa were "owed a bit of luck" after their previous near-misses in the World Cup, including the tied semi-final in 1999. He said there had been no discussion in the dressing room about the match, which included the key men Kallis, Pollock, Herschelle Gibbs and Mark Boucher.
"When you get to the back end of these tournaments, you need your top players to have big games," Arthur said. "The teams are going to be quite close so it's going to be a bit of stability and a match-winning performance from one of them that could be the difference."