New Zealand v South Africa, World T20, Group 1 March 23, 2014

Du Plessis in doubt ahead of crucial clash


Match facts

March 24, 2014, Chittagong

Start time 1530 (0930GMT)

Big Picture

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.

Team news

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Wesley on March 24, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    I am a South African cricket fan that is growing disillusioned at the allegiances to players not cut out for either format of cricket. Form players are picked or not played while we continue to buck what hasn't worked for us.

    Dolphins - Zhondo, Abbott, Frylinck. Cobras - B Hendricks, Vallie, Van Zyl, Vilas, Piedt. Titans - De Lange, Wiese. Knights - R Hendricks, Roussouw, Harmer. Lions - Bavuma, Leie, Viljoen, Morris. Warriors - Smuts, Ingram

    Even considering a player like Levi while work in progress is potentially a match winner in the T20 format.

    Whatever the format we are not picking players on form, based on politics and allegiances and its not doing our talent enough good.

    If i were the coach id go with;

    De Kock, AB, Duminy, Du Plessis, Miller, Morkel, Parnell, Hendricks, Morkel, Tahir, Phangiso.

  • greig on March 24, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    If Miller doesn't come in at 4 and AB at 3 then we are toast. Amla as an opener n T20 is a total failure which everyone can see except Domingo. Amla should bat at 5. 1. De Kock 2. Faff 3. AB 4. Miller 5.Amla 6.JP 7.Albie Morkel - looks miles better doesn't it.

    SA are notorious chokers in tournaments- Im happy to admit that. So why play right into your weakness by loading your best hitters at the back of the innings instead of the beginning to relieve this pressure.

  • ladlesh on March 24, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    @ Mr.CricketJKNotHussey and Farhan Sadik Riadi. i think both of you dont have any understanding of the game, AND RELY PURELY ON STATISTICS. you need to watch the game more closely to understand what i am trying to say. i agree devillers is talented but he has no nerves to bat under pressure,. last icc champions trophy major event crucial game india vs africa where africa was almost gona win the game but a wicket felt and couple of dot balls after that and as usual Ab devillers got into pressure and came dancing down trying to hit a bouncer and caught in no mans land which costed africa a match cause he was well set by than playing at almost 70 and needed to guide his team down too victory and so many other such games

  • jared on March 24, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about because everyone likes the guy including myself, is that nz's premiere batsman just isn't that good a t20 cricket and no im not talking about williamson, ross taylors t20 record just isn't very good, he owns it domestically which warrents his selection and the fact he's a magnificent player but in t20's as a black cap he has never really produced the goods and maybe the way to fit the destructive hitting of neesham in is to replace taylor, sounds crazy considering he is probably one of the few players who can handle the class of styen and morkel but if he's not producing match wining innings maybe just maybe as crazy as it sounds we pick a nz side without taylor

  • dj on March 24, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    take a leave out of the game SA Women vs Pakistan Women T20 on 23 March 2014 and get a decent 1st record partnership going!!!

  • dave on March 24, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    Sameold is correct. The idea raised that Neesham should open disregards the fact that SA have a top line pace attack and someone with Kane's skill is needed at the top. He batted very well against England but even for him it will be a challenge in the first few overs.

  • Sharky on March 24, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    South Africa has mainly fastbowler pitches. Miller and Tsotsobe are still use to the South African pitches and haven't adjusted to the subcontinent pitches yet. It looks like the minds of the Proteas-selectors, also didn't adjust to the subcontinent atmosphere. They should have had more spinners in their squad and less fastbowlers. Match 7 of the ICC 50 Over World Cup, on 24 Feb 2011 at Delhi, Proteas beat West Indies by 7 wickets with 43 balls remaining. Proteas bowled Robin Peterson, Imran Tahir & Johan Botha successfully. Match 29 of ICC 50 Over World Cup, on 12 Mar 2011 at Nagpur, Proteas beat India by 3 wickets with 2 balls remaining. Proteas bowled Peterson, Botha & Duminy successfully. Match 39 of ICC 50 Over World Cup on 19 Mar 2011, Proteas beat Bangladesh by 206 runs. Proteas bowled Johan Botha, Robin Peterson & Tahir successfully. If Proteas were serious about winning a Cup in subcontinent, Tsotsobe or Morkel should have made way for Robin Peterson or Johan Botha.

  • ESPN on March 24, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    SA is a very good team need to drop behardien and give the chance to parnell a very good allrounder best of luck SA. SA will win today

  • hamish on March 24, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    @ Ozcricketwriter

    Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (March 24, 2014, 8:16 GMT) This isn't a final or anything, so why panic? Except that, with one loss already, it is virtually a final, and that might be enough for New Zealand to sneak in. New Zealand, for the most part, have been horrible lately...


    NZ in T20s

    Form guide (completed matches, most recent first) New Zealand WWWLW

    NZ in ODIs New Zealand WWTWW

    NZ in Tests New Zealand DWWWD

    Looks pretty good to me!

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    @SameOld - You answer your own question and diffuse your own argument. "How can you play Neesham when Anderson is killing it!?" Um, because sometimes he doesn't and they are carbon copy players in many regards. Why play one trump card, when you can play two? That is the answer to your question... another question to you. Are you saying Munro as a batter alone offers more than Neesham? Logical answer = NO. Do we need three fast bowlers on a slow pitch, playing first without dew at a different ground to the quick Chittagong one from the other night (did you even know that)?. Also, your ave on about Ryder loss, but Neesham could probably score his quick 20-40s easily also, and he can bowl too. In the last match versus England we lacked options and Kane is playing as an out and out batsman, which originally he could not make the team for (they said he made this team 'cos he 'bowls' but he hasn't) when the squad was 14-strong and Neesham was starting. It is not logical that he is not playin