Du Plessis in doubt ahead of crucial clash
March 24, 2014, Chittagong
Start time 1530 (0930GMT)
March 25, 2011. The Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, 250 kilometres from Chittagong. New Zealand dumped South Africa out of the World Cup they had looked on course to win.
A day short of three years later, the teams will meet at an ICC event again. In between, they've played each other in five Tests, six ODIs and six T20s - a total of 17 matches. South Africa have lost just four of those. They've had the better of New Zealand in bilateral series but the memory of coming unstuck against them in a game that mattered more than any of the others is still fresh. Specifically, it will be stirring in Faf du Plessis' mind.
On March 25, 2011, du Plessis was one of the team's relative youngsters and a key protagonist in the choke. He ran AB de Villiers out and was involved in an on-field altercation with Kyle Mills that reeked of blood rushing to the head. On March 24, 2014 du Plessis will captain the side - whether on the field or from the sidelines, nursing a hamstring injury - in a game that they don't have to win.
The pressure is on South Africa but it need not stifle them. They do not have to beat New Zealand to keep their hopes of qualifying for the final four alive but if they don't they will make their own task much harder. Defeat will also mean they will have to rely on other results, something no team is comfortable with.
Similarly, New Zealand cannot confirm semi-final spots with victory but will be in an enviable position if they win a second game in succession. They triumphed over England in a rain-affected encounter and will look forward to the prospect of a full game to prove their summer of plunder was no fluke.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa LLLLW
New Zealand WWWLW
Watch out for
With emphasis on the middle order's ability to accelerate, South Africa are expecting their top-order to lay a solid enough platform. The spotlight will be on Hashim Amla in that role because he will have to up his aggression while keeping his head, something that a lean patch of form won't help with. Amla's last three T20 scores are 4, 2 and 23 and he seems to be struggling for his usual silken touch. Amla was the only South African batsman whose strike rate against Sri Lanka was under 100 but he was part of decent opening stand of 32. South Africa will bank on him to get going and bat a touch deeper to give the likes of David Miller less to do.
Mitchell McClenaghan made his T20 debut against South Africa and impressed from the outset. He took four wickets at an average of just 19.00 in the three-match series against them in December 2012. He has since developed into one of New Zealand's danger men and they'll be looking to him to do some damage to a line-up laden with left-handers. South Africa have four in their top seven - Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Miller and Albie Morkel - and Amla has succumbed to left-armers more often recently, which will give McClenaghan hope he can run through them.
South Africa are still uncertain about the availability of their captain Faf du Plessis, who is recovering from a hamstring niggle. Du Plessis missed their tournament opener but trained at optional practice on Sunday and will have a fitness test on Monday morning to determine whether he can play. South Africa are being cautious not to rush him back too early.
If he is still out of action, Farhaan Behardien will bat in the middle order with JP Duminy at No.3, with South Africa adamant AB de Villiers will not be promoted up the order. With Dale Steyn fully fit, South Africa will stick to their three-pronged frontline seam attack with Imran Tahir the specialist spinner but may consider slotting in Wayne Parnell for Albie Morkel.
South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis/JP Duminy 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy/Farhaan Behardien, 6 David Miller, 7 Albie Morkel/Wayne Parnell, 9 Dale Steyn 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Imran Tahir
Two-thirds of New Zealand's squad attended their voluntary training on Sunday and they have no injury concerns. That means there's have no reason to break with a winning formula and will likely field the same XI that beat England.
New Zealand: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Kane Williamson, 3 Brendon McCullum(capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Colin Munro, 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan
There was some extra bounce on offer during the first match of the tournament played in Chittagong between South Africa and Sri Lanka. The pitch used for that clash had a generous grass covering and although the matches will rotate among seven strips through the competition, similar can be expected. Batting will be tricky for incoming batsmen but should get easier with time at the crease, even though it will take turn. Morning showers are expected but the afternoon should be dry and chances of a full game are good.
Stats and Trivia
- New Zealand and South Africa have played each other 11 times in T20 internationals with South Africa winning 8 of those matches. That includes both meetings at previous World T20s: by 1 run at Lord's in 2009 and 13 runs in Bridgetown in 2010.
- Martin Guptill has scored 300 runs in seven innings against South Africa, at an average of 60 and a strike rate of 135. No other New Zealand batsman has scored 300 runs against an opposition team in T20Is.
"There's always going to be that added pressure on us now, depending on how other results go we're probably going to have to win all three"
South Africa know it won't be easy following their defeat to Sri Lanka, as JP Duminy confirmed
"We've never tackled them on the cricket field. We have got a lot of respect for them, they're a very good side in all formats. We're looking forward to the challenge of playing against some of the best players in the world."
Kane Williamson explains the rivalry between New Zealand and South Africa is not as intense on the cricket field as it is on the rugby ground
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent