Dhaka, March 21 (IANS) New Zealand need to improve on consistency as they prepare to take on the might of South Africa in the cricket World Cup quarterfinal here Friday. Having been the losing semifinalists in five previous editions of the big event, the Kiwis would hope to do better, but they have their task cut out.
The Oceanian team came into the World Cup after a string of poor performances, going down 0-4 to Bangladesh, 0-5 against India and 0-2 to Pakistan.
New Zealand have had a roller coaster ride in the 2011 World Cup, beginning with an emphatic ten wicket victory over Kenya. They went down to Australia in the second match, but lifted their spirits to win the next three matches, including a 110-run triumph over Pakistan.
Having assured themselves of a place in the last eight, the New Zealanders again tasted defeat in their last game against Sri Lanka. The island nation won by 112 runs, and the Kiwis finished fourth in group A to settle for a quarterfinal outing against South Africa.
Head-to-head, New Zealand lag far behind, winning only 17 of the 51 ODIs played between the two sides. While South Africa are the second-ranked ODI side, New Zealand are five places below.
The winners of the match would move to Colombo to play in the semifinals against the victors of Saturday’s game between Sri Lanka and England.
The Black Caps have been plagued by injuries to key bowers. Skipper Daniel Vettori strained his knee ligament in the match against Pakistan and has been out of the playing XI since then with Ross Taylor standing in for him. Medium-pacer Kylie Mills suffered a quadricep injury against Canada, and is recuperating.
Besides, fast bowler Hamish Bennett has been ruled out of the tournament due to an ankle and Achiles tendon injury and seamer Daryl Tuffey has joined the side.
However, Taylor has said Vettori and Mills are recovering well and could be seen in action soon. “We got a couple of days to know who we are playing and they will get that rest,” he said.
The New Zealand batting has revolved around Taylor (245 runs) and the two openers – wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum (239) and Martin Guptill (222). Pacer Tim Southee has been the most successful bowler with 14 wickets.