Cricket: Oram return to boost Black Caps

Key allrounder Jacob Oram will return to the New Zealand lineup as they try to keep the one-day cricket series against South Africa alive in Port Elizabeth tomorrow morning (NZ time).

Captain Daniel Vettori said Oram, who has been out of action since the first test at the Wanderers with a hamstring injury, was fit and would play at St George's Park.

"Jacob's probably the most important member of our team purely from the roles he fills, batting at number six and able to bowl 10 overs," Vettori told the supersport website.

"It's a luxury not many teams have and having him back means I can take six bowlers and we get a nice balance when he's playing."

Oram's return may allow Vettori to be joined by a second spinner in the form of Jeetan Patel, who performed encouragingly in the narrow Twenty20 loss at Johannesburg.

Patel wasn't required in Monday's last-ball opening one-day loss at Durban but Vettori indicated he would probably be employed in more spin-friendly conditions tomorrow.

"The times I've played here, I've always found it a low, slow wicket and the guys who've been able to take the pace off it have always succeeded here," Vettori said.

"Seamers still have an important role to play, but we'll have a lot of emphasis on the slow bowlers."

South African captain Graeme Smith was unperturbed about the prospect of facing two spinners in the New Zealand team.

"We actually expected them to go with two spinners, and Cape Town (third match on Monday) they'll probably do the same thing," Smith said.

"Obviously they'll have Scott Styris, Jeetan and Dan and may also use Jacob in a standing up kind of mode - I think that's what we're going to face tomorrow and on Sunday.

"We've already had a discussion about it, and the guys are all aware. We've just come out of the sub-continent where we played a lot of cricket.

"The wickets were low and slow, and I think this one will be a lot better than those, so I'm pretty sure we can cope."

Vettori said his team wouldn't be holding back as they chase an elusive win over the Proteas.

Since the two heavy test losses, the Black Caps have been far more competitive in the shortened matches but have failed to take advantage of winning positions.

"We need to win both matches to give ourselves a shot at the series," Vettori said.

"The way we play tomorrow will be with that in mind, and we definitely will not be playing defensively.

"We'll be chasing that win as hard as we can, but the key thing is that when you are chasing a win, you maybe push a little too hard and forget about a few of the simple things you need to do.

"So I'll be expressing that to the team and hopefully we can keep on top of them."

Smith hinted there might be some changes to South Africa's bowling line-up.

"We've got to look at the wicket and the conditions, but obviously Dale (Steyn) and (Charl) Langeveldt come into the equation. We'll see what switches we need to make to suit the conditions," Smith said.

"We want to be more clinical come tomorrow. It would be fantastic to close off the series tomorrow."

- NZPA

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