Adam Parore: NZ must get into Sth Africa game fast


As much as I'd like to see New Zealand into the World Cup semifinals, I can't see them beating South Africa tonight.

Let's first deal with the choker tag so often given to the South Africans. Yes, it has some credence but that is more likely to become relevant at the semifinal stage than in the quarter-finals.

South Africa have a superior record in head-to-head ODI meetings with New Zealand. There's a couple of reasons for that.

They have strong, resourceful batsmen who tend to relish the sort of medium pace-based bowling attack New Zealand so often rely on. They like playing against orthodox bowling and one thing New Zealand teams historically have never had is bowlers who offer something out of left field.

We've rarely produced a wristy legspinner and genuine speedsters are few and far between. So New Zealand leans heavily on either fast-medium swing or seam bowlers, the slow medium Scott Styris type, or traditional off or left arm spinners.

South Africa's batsmen aren't going to be surprised, plus they usually bat low down in their order, as we've seen earlier in the tournament.

As for their bowlers, they're never short of someone quick and hostile. Dale Steyn is the latest and he's a handful. Put him alongside his tall new-ball mate Morne Morkel and New Zealand's batsmen have their hands full.

If legspinner Imran Tahir plays, he will trouble New Zealand's batsmen in the same way Sri Lanka's spinners caused havoc last weekend.

Plus South African teams are always among the best fielding units in the game. They are a tough allround package.

Above all, New Zealand need two things tonight: early wickets and a century by a top order batsman. New Zealand's bowlers must get amongst the South African top order. If that doesn't happen, they've got big problems.

One of our first four batsmen, Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder or Ross Taylor, must score a century. Two of them already have in the tournament. Other batsmen can then work around that.

They need to make South Africa realise they're in a scrap, and you do that by getting ahead of the game early.

Pakistan raised some eyebrows with their win in the first quarter-final, although the West Indies were hopeless. Might Pakistan be embarking on one of their celebrated winning rolls?

I'd wager the more favoured countries would rather play another strong team who have a predictable pattern to their game. The last thing you'd accuse the Pakistanis of is consistency.

That's why they are a genuine threat. After all, they're only two wins away from winning the title.

- NZ Herald

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