New Zealand Vs South Africa
Starting time: 2:00 pm IST
Dhaka, March 25: South Africa might be inclined to think that overcoming New Zealand in their quarterfinal match-up at Dhaka on March 25, will be as piece of cake. But the Proteas would do well to guard against complacency or overconfidence, especially considering that its 1996 World Cup side went down to a perceptibly lesser West Indies at the same stage of that tournament.
Even though New Zealand finished fourth in their group this World Cup, they are no push-overs. They are the only team to have handed defeat to table-toppers Pakistan during the league stage. Further more, the Black Caps have beaten South Africa three times in World Cup encounters while losing to them just twice. However, since the last World Cup, South Africa leads the head-to-head 3-1.
In the ongoing global event, the Kiwi batting line-up is looking top-heavy which could both be a good and bad thing. It would be advantageous to get the runs up front, especially with Brendon McCullum averaging 57.80 and Martin Guptill, 55.50. The real juice in the line-up comes immediately after with Ross Taylor making 81.00 per match.
However, if these three big guns flop, there isn't much to look forward to with Scott Styris (avg: 17.25), James Franklin (avg: 13.00) and Nathan McCullum (avg: 13.00) not in the thick of form with the bat. Incidentally, it has been Styris and Brendon McCullum that have performed most consistently against the Proteas since May 2007, averaging 62.00 and 40.33 respectively, in the Nov-Dec 2007 series in the Rainbow Nation, which the Kiwis lost 1-2.
The South African batting in contrast is looking well balanced, for though opener Graeme Smith hasn't been the mark as he is averaging just 27.50, Hashim Amla (avg: 49.83) and A B de Villiers (avg: 106.00) more than compensate. Further down the order, J P Duminy, Faf du Plessis and even Robin Peterson have been playing their part well.
In terms of wicket-taking, both sides have been going great guns. Kiwi paceman Tim Southee and Proteas' off-spinner Robin Peterson lead the pack with 14 scalps a piece, but while the former is averaging 14.14, the latter has been conceding just 10.00 runs per! Peterson has gotten good support from his speedster buddy Dale Steyn who has picked up 10 wickets from 5 matches at an average of 15.00, while Black Caps Kyle Mills, with 6 wickets from 3 matches at 12.33 and Jacob Oram, with 10 from 4 at 18.30, are also in good form.
It seems that the figures indicate that South Africa hold a definite edge over the Kiwis. But Friday's result will come down to which side bats, bowls and fields better on the day. South Africa will be looking at carrying forward their consistency in the tournament, while the Kiwis will want to spring a surprise on them.