Kiwi all-rounder Oram ruled out of Aussie tie

Published: Friday, April 20, 2007, 3:16 [IST]
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St George's (Grenada):New Zealand's Jacob Oram will miss Friday's World Cup Super Eights match against champions Australia after suffering a recurrence of a heel injury, Black Caps coach John Bracewell said on Thursday.

However, Bracewell insisted the giant pace-bowling all-rounder would be fit for Tuesday's semi-final in Jamaica where New Zealand are set to face Sri Lanka.

"We will be going in with our strongest side for this particular game except Jacob Oram who won't be available because of a problem with his heel," Bracewell said.

Asked if Oram would be fit for the semi-final, former New Zealand off-spinner Bracewell replied: "Yes. That's one of the reasons why he's not playing. It's a precautionary thing.

"He had it (the injury) for a period of time during the home series. The diagnosis is that the initial impact is the worse case scenario, but he's been able to nurse it through. All of a sudden it's got a little bit more serious, so we've just got to take it easy.

"It's starting to get better with rest already so that's a good indication for us."

Australia are also already through to the semi-finals, meaning Friday's match is not a decisive one for either side.

Bracewell said he'd no qualms about pitching the 28-year-old Oram into a crunch match, saying his situation was similar to that of Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who has been out of action with an ankle injury but is expected to return for the semi-finals.

"It's no more of a concern than Sri Lanka with Malinga. We talked with Jacob about the possibility of playing him as a batter only but we didn't want to weaken the balance of the side by going in a bowler short.

"It gives us an ideal opportunity to feature probably all of our bowlers going into the semi-final."

Oram has scored 162 runs at an average of 40.50 at this World Cup and taken nine wickets at 21.33 apiece.

Pace bowlers Michael Mason and Mark Gillespie could now both feature on Friday, with off-spinner Jeetan Patel omitted, as New Zealand prepare for the expected bouncier pitch at Jamaica's Sabina Park.

New Zealand, who've never won the World Cup, would have to beat Australia by a huge margin to overtake the double-defending champions on run-rate at the top of the standings.

"Mathematically, it's a possibility but the amount would prevent that so we're focusing on beating Australia and hopefully ending up second," Bracewell said. "One of the reasons for ending up second is we get the preferential treatment in terms of the early (Monday) morning practice."

Bracewell's side head into Friday's game looking for a fourth straight one-day win over Australia following a 3-0 success in February's Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series in New Zealand, where the Black Caps achieved two of the three highest totals batting second to win a one-day international.

"It's an important game because it's playing against the number one ranked side in the world. It's also our neighbours, a traditional rival and it's something we always look forward to, the trans-Tasman battle," Bracewell said.

"We also know the seriousness with which Australia take their cricket and their revenge mentality."

Sri Lanka, already through to the semi-finals, caused controversy when they omitted star bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan against Australia during a seven-wicket defeat here Monday.

But Bracewell said he had no thoughts of resting New Zealand spearhead quick Shane Bond.

"The Australians have seen Shane over the last six months. They'll have enough data on him, enough information on him. He doesn't bowl anything that's unusual or they are not ready to take on, it's whether they can deal with it." Australia, bidding for an unprecedented third straight World Cup title, are set to play South Africa in the second semi-final in St Lucia on Wednesday.


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