Cricket: Vettori almost all go for quarterfinal

New Zealand captain Dan Vettori has all but declared himself fit for the cricket World Cup quarterfinal against South Africa.

His anticipated return for the match, probably in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Friday, is a welcome development for a team coming off a heavy loss to Sri Lanka yesterday when they completed the group phase with a 112-run loss in India's financial hub of Mumbai.

The New Zealanders will remain in Mumbai until tomorrow at the earliest before the confirmed quarterfinal lineup and venues are determined when the group phase of the tournament is completed.

Vettori has missed New Zealand's last two matches, against Sri Lanka and Canada, after injuring a knee while fielding against Pakistan on March 8, a match they went on to win in easily their best performance of the World Cup to date.

They have finished fourth in their group, guaranteeing them a quarterfinal against the top team in group B, South Africa.

And Vettori is almost certain he will be right to front with both his leadership and left-arm spin bowling against one of the title favourites.

"Skill-wise I should be all right to get through the batting and bowling, it is just the running around that is hampering me a little bit," he said today after a training session.

"But I still have a few days left and I am confident of being available for that.

"I have to be a bit brave on it, and realise I am not going to do any more damage. I just have to deal with a little bit of the pain. The more I can do on it the more comfortable I will feel.

"The main thing is being able to try and work around everything else. I am very confident I will be able to bowl during the quarterfinal.

"It feels all right bowling but I haven't done it in under pressure conditions and there haven't been any short, sharp, unpredictable movements. That will be the next step over the next few days."

Vettori is one of three bowlers battling to overcome injury.

Senior seamer Kyle Mills suffered a quad strain against Canada last Sunday while Canterbury quick Hamish Bennett strained a calf muscle against Sri Lanka.

Both trained today, but Vettori suggested it was too early to rule either of them in or out for the match against South Africa.

New Zealand's seam bowling stocks have been boosted by the arrival of the experienced Daryl Tuffey as cover.

South Africa will provide the New Zealanders with a formidable challenge.

After resting frontline fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel for their last group game against Bangladesh, the South Africans strolled to a commanding win by 206 runs when backups Robin Peterson and Lonwabo Tsotsobe took seven wickets between them as Bangladesh were dismissed for only 78 chasing the victors' 284 for eight.

- NZPA

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