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Conditions should suit us - McCullum

New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum thinks his side's greater experience of conditions in Mirpur could give them the edge over South Africa

ESPNcricinfo staff
Brendon McCullum started New Zealand's chase positively, New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Group A, World Cup 2011, Mumbai, March 18, 2011

Brendon McCullum's contribution at the top of the order will be vital if New Zealand are to challenge South Africa  •  Associated Press

New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum thinks his side's greater experience of conditions in Mirpur could give them the edge over South Africa in their quarter-final clash on Friday. New Zealand will have bitter memories of the ground - it was here that Bangladesh beat them in four successive one-day internationals in October last year - but those games will at least have given them in-depth local knowledge of what to expect.
"We are used to the conditions, which has got to help us," McCullum said. "To play South Africa in those conditions is not a bad draw at all. They obviously prefer a little more pace and bounce in their wickets. Dhaka won't quite give them that and I'm sure they'll be a little disappointed."
South Africa have also recently played at the ground, however, knocking co-hosts Bangladesh out of the World Cup with a thumping 206-run win last Saturday. In a ruthless performance, South Africa took the upper hand when they were allowed to acclimatise to the conditions by some wayward Bangladesh bowling and racked up 284 for 8. They then skittled their opponents for just 78.
The scale of South Africa's win over a team that had the better of New Zealand not long ago could have given New Zealand cause for concern, but McCullum insisted his team's focus is on achieving their own goals, rather than what tactics their opponents might use.
"Our game plan is reasonably basic," he said. "Be pretty disciplined with the ball, incredibly desperate in the field and with the bat lay the platform for the big hitters later on. If we do that we'll give ourselves the best opportunity." If New Zealand can do that, McCullum suggested, "hopefully, South Africa will fall by the wayside and we can move on to our next opponent".
New Zealand will no doubt also draw confidence from their World Cup record against South Africa, to whom they have not lost a match in the global tournament since 1999. New Zealand have also made it to the semi-finals of the event on five occasions, a fact their seamer Daryl Tuffey said gave them a mental edge.
"We know their [South Africa's] record at World Cups and it will be in the back of their minds that they haven't progressed as well as they should have," Tuffey said. "For us, we've made it to the semi-finals regularly here."
"We know what the conditions are like. It'll be a slow track taking turn and both teams know what to expect. The Dhaka wicket is slow and low which negates their main strength with bounce, but they have some good spinners at this tournament, as do we; so it'll come down to the middle overs and at the death."
Tuffey was a member of the touring squad that was humiliated by Bangladesh last year, and said the quarter-final was a chance to put right those failures and improve New Zealand's record at the ground. "This is a chance to right the wrongs from October, especially the way we batted on those slow decks," he said. "Hopefully we've done enough to get into a mindset of doing well."