ICC World Cup 2011: South Africa v/s New Zealand Quarter Final Preview


This article discusses the strengths and weaknesses of mighty South Africa and vulnerable New Zealand cricket teams who face each other in 3rd quarter final of ICC world cup cricket 2011

The strongest contender and the leader of group B of the 10th edition of ICC World Cup, South Africa, will face New Zealand in the third quarter final on 25th march at Dhaka (Bangladesh). South Africa has always been a formidable team in world cup cricket and except for 2003, this team has always progressed into the second round apart from playing 3 semifinals since 1992. On the other hand New Zealand has never been considered serious contenders of the world cup though this team too has been into the semis on more than one occasion. It is time to look at the strengths and weaknesses of both these teams before their quarter final clash.

Strengths



South Africa has got almost everything right this world cup. The team has a strong batting line up which includes legends like Jacques Kallis and established batsmen like AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla. The bowling unit of Proteas is most lethal among all teams as they have the bowling pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel who can turn around the match for them any instant as was visible in the match with India. Perhaps the most heartening fact for South Africa is that even the new players in their spin department like Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson are delivering goods. Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who was given a chance to play against Bangladesh, too proved his worth by derailing Asian team's top order. The fielding has always been the strong point of Proteas and it was evident in this world cup too. Another significant improvement in this team is that it is trying to free itself from the tag of chokers. The match against India was a testimony of this fact.

New Zealand is ranked pretty low in the ICC team rankings but the team can pull off an upset any day, thanks to some explosive players. Ross Taylor had showed the world how destructive he can against Pakistan when he helped Kiwis accumulate more than 100 runs in the final 6 overs of the innings. Brendon Mccullum and Martin Guptill are capable of ripping apart any attack on their day. In the bowling department skipper Daniel Vettori is the key person for the team. Tim Southee has performed very well so far and has scalped 14 wickets. Kyle Mills can also be dangerous in the opening spell. The team has good all-rounder in the form of Jacob Oram and Scott Styris. Another plus point of the team is its fielding.

Weakness



South Africa skipper Greame Smith has been the only player in this team who has failed to impress till now. Though Smith's captaincy is pretty good, his vulnerability at the top isn't a good sign for the team in the coming matches where losing is not an option at all. Though South Africa clinched the tight game against India, the team still can't claim to be free of the chokers tag. Most of their past world cup experiences including the 1999 semifinal against Australia are bitter and the defeat against England by 6 runs in a low scoring match did no good for them. The pressure would be more in the knockout stage and somewhere the quarter final clash with West Indies in 1996 world cup would be fresh in the memories of Proteas when they were floored by the knock of great Brian Lara.



New Zealand's main problem is that the team is not able to perform as per their potential most of the times. The players have the capability but are not able to perform as a unit in most of the matches. The team's biggest weakness though is its vulnerability against spin attack. The team had a huge defeat at the hands of Srilanka where Murlidharan grabbed 4 wickets. The kiwis were in a precarious position against Pakistan as well and had it not been for the dropped catches, the team would have ended the innings on a below par score. South Africa too has two good spinners in the form of Peterson and Tahir and on a turning pitch this pair can be quite dangerous for kiwis. The team has performed poorly against the top sides in last 2 years and was not able to win a single match in the ODI series against India last year in India. This puts a question mark against New Zealand's ability to stop the juggernaut called South Africa.


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