Saturday, 14 April 2007

Preview: New Zealand vs South Africa

Defeat to Sri Lanka on Thursday has left New Zealand in a potentially dangerous position. Should they lose to both South Africa and Australia then they could find themselves tied on points with both South Africa and England. Should that be the case, then net run rate would come into play and thanks to Stephen Fleming's tactical astuteness, the Kiwis are far better placed in that regard. By dragging out the defeat to Sri Lanka for 46 overs rather than going for a do or die approach, the damage to the net run rate was kept to a minimum. Whatever the result here they still have an excellent chance of progressing.

The same can not be said for the South Africans who desperately need victory. With the game against England a virtual quarter final, South Africa need to beat the Kiwis to ensure that they will still have a chance of progressing if they do lose to England on Tuesday. Again, net run rate would come into play, with England's currently superior. Graeme Smith is less concerned with run rate though and more with getting the two victories that will see both South Africa and New Zealand through.

With the pitch in Grenada looking slow, New Zealand will want to include offspinner Jeetan Patel, alongside Daniel Vettori, in order to give the South Africans another trial by spin. Whether Ryan Peterson plays is another matter altogether, with the South Africans favouring their all seam attack.

Prediction: Kiwis to do England a favour, spin and medium pace to be crucial once again.

Players to watch: Jeetan Patel and Jaques Kallis.

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