Bond, Oram set to return for semi-finals

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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St George's (Grenada):Fast bowler Shane Bond and giant all-rounder Jacob Oram are scheduled to return to the New Zealand side for Tuesday's World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka in Jamaica.

Bond, who missed his team's 215-run hammering by Australia on Saturday with a stomach complaint, did not train on Saturday but Oram batted in the nets at the Grenada National Stadium.

Oram, who was rested because of a bruised right heel, did not bowl but told reporters he would test his heel after the team arrived in Jamaica on Monday.

Their return has become a matter of urgency for the Kiwis after the mauling by Australia, the biggest one-day defeat in New Zealand history.

Adroitly as Stephen Fleming juggled his slender bowling resources, nothing could disguise how much he missed Bond's pace and skills and Oram's bounce and accuracy.

Michael Mason, returning after missing three games with a calf injury, was given only three overs which went for 27 runs.

Mark Gillespie conceded 67 from six and although James Franklin took three wickets his eight overs cost 74.

"Unfortunately on Friday our accuracy was poor, a lot of extras and no-balls, and we missed a lot of areas where we want to bowl against Australian batsmen," Fleming told a post-match news conference.

Fleming said Bond, who has a wonderful record against Australia, had been badly missed.

"He's missed immensely, one of the form, if not the new ball form bowler of the moment. He was going to play and we were trying to win this game.

"The fact that we lost him gave opportunities to two guys who haven't played much cricket and gave us a chance to play around with a few different options.

"The wicket was very good and with our lack of accuracy we found out that we didn't have much strike power at the top."

New Zealand have reached the semi-finals four times in eight tournaments but never advanced further.

"We're a dangerous side," Fleming said. "We can play like we did today and blow up or we can play in a semi-final and chase down 350. We're a dangerous side, even more dangerous now that we've got two games to win.

"Australia are playing great cricket but are they going to have a bad day?

"We hope we can get past Sri Lanka and then create a bad day for them in the final."

The seven-week tournament culminates in the final on April 28 in Barbados. Australia and South Africa meet in the other semi in St Lucia on Wednesday.


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