हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

Engrossing contest on cards as Aussies take on Kiwis

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
 
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St George's (Grenada):New Zealand plan to put the Australian attack under the sort of pressure on Friday they have faced only twice in the World Cup since losing 3-0 to the Kiwis in the Chappell-Hadlee series this year.

Both teams have already qualified for the semi-finals but there will be no letup in the final Super Eights match at the Grenada National Stadium in the intense rivalry between two countries who compete fiercely at cricket, both rugby codes and netball.

New Zealand thrust aside all inhibitions to record two of the three highest run chases ever in February's one-day series against a side whose attack has only faltered against South Africa and England at the World Cup.

South Africa reached 160 without loss chasing 378 to win the final Group A match and England were 164 for two in the Super Eights with Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen batting superbly.

In both cases Ricky Ponting's men fought their way out of potential trouble with the help of a brilliant run-out from the boundary by Shane Watson against South Africa and a soft dismissal by Bell in the England match.

"It's the same attack we played in New Zealand and we had success there," captain Stephen Fleming told a news conference.

"If we could create that sort of intensity with the bat and put them under pressure with their batting then we're going to have a good game. I'm not sure they've been put under pressure over 100 overs."

New Zealand will take the field without all-rounder Jacob Oram, who has a bruised heel but is expected to be fit for next Tuesday's projected semi-final against Sri Lanka in Jamaica.

Coach John Bracewell told a news conference on Thursday that James Franklin could be promoted from number nine to Oram's spot at number six.

Michael Mason, who injured his calf against Bangladesh, is set to return while New Zealand could further strengthen their pace bowling by selecting Mark Gillespie instead of off-spinner Jeetan Patel.

Patel bowled beautifully in last Saturday's victory over South Africa but New Zealand will be taking into consideration the probability of a bouncy pitch in Jamaica for the semis.

Australia, who are scheduled to play South Africa in the second semi-final in St Lucia on Wednesday, will assess the fitness of all-rounder Watson, who has missed the last three second-round games since straining his left calf bowling against Bangladesh on March 31.

Ponting told reporters this week that New Zealand were playing as well as anybody in the tournament after some stunning performances in the Chappell-Hadlee series.

"They played some unbelievable cricket, scored some big runs and chased some big totals down," he said. "There's no doubt at the moment they've got a bit of confidence and when they are actually at full strength, which they are pretty close to now, they are a very competitive side.

"They've been playing pretty much one-day cricket almost 12 months now, they've played hardly any other cricket. They've been focusing wholly and solely on this event."

Shane Vs Shaun: There are few more thrilling sights in cricket than watching a fast bowler in action.

That's why the crowd at Grenada's National Stadium on Friday will be doubly fortunate when they get to see two quickest bowlers on the planet in action- Shane Bond for New Zealand and Shaun Tait for Australia- when Trans-Tasman rivals battle it out in WC Super Eights tie for extra edge and loads of confidence ahead of semi-finals

Tait, Australia's strike bowler in the absence of the injured Brett Lee, is third in the list of the tournament's leading bowlers with 16 wickets at 22.12 while Bond is tenth with 12 at under 13 apiece.

Both right-arm bowlers are capable of making breakthroughs with the new ball and coming back later to take important wickets in the middle of an innings.

However, the similarities end there.

Tait, 24, still mainly relies on sheer pace generated by a huge shoulder turn in an unorthodox action which has been likened to that of Aussie pace great Jeff Thomson, who terrorised the world's best batsmen during the 1970s.

Bond, as befits a former policeman, is less wayward and bowls a generally fuller length with fewer short-pitched deliveries

Not as quick as Tait, the greater experience of the injury-plagued, 31-year-old Bond, who has played 66 one-day internationals compared to the Australian's 12, is seen in his greater variety and mastery of late movement.

However, with Australia's well-balanced pace attack featuring the ever-reliable Glenn McGrath, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament to date with 20, and miserly left-armer Nathan Bracken, the double-defending champions can unleash Tait without compromising his speed for greater accuracy.

That can make life tough for wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist who, during Monday's defeat of Sri Lanka, saw Tait bowl six wides including one that went way out of his reach on its way to the boundary.

Bond, although possessing a far more orthodox action, is unusual among modern quicks as New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming explained.

"He's a fine bowler and he swings the ball in, a lot of fast bowlers these days shape the ball away," said Fleming.

"He gets prodigious movement with the new ball that provides a challenge to any top order. He's been able to use the inswing to a lot of effect and he's developed other subtleties."

Bond enjoys the rare distinction amongst current players of having a better one-day record against Australia than for his career as a whole with 34 wickets at an average of under 14 apiece, compared to 124 wickets at 19 against all-comers.

And three of his four hauls of five wickets or more in an innings in one-dayers have come against Australia, including a dramatic return of six for 23 during the 2003 World Cup in Port Elizabeth.

But, in what could be a worrying omen for New Zealand fans, Australia still won that match by 96 runs.

Teams:

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist, Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait and Shane Watson. Coach: John Buchanan.

New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (capt), Shane Bond, James Franklin, Peter Fulton, Mark Gillespie, Michael Mason, Brendon McCullum, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori and Hamish Marshall. Coach: John Bracewell.

Agencies

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