South Africa primed for pressure match

MUMBAI, (Reuters) – South Africa bring an added  dimension to their bowling accompanied by a new generation who  reject any suggestion that they fold under pressure to the World  Cup quarter-final against New Zealand in Dhaka yesterday.
While the South Africans’ all-round prowess in the group  stages has deservedly earned them the title of tournament  favourites, they are still forced to counter accusations that  they choke when the going gets tough.

Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis

Faf du Plessis, a member of the spin attack who have  performed so impressively at the tournament, told reporters this  week that his team’s victory over India in Nagpur showed the  calibre of the current side.
“I, myself, don’t really know too much about the chokers’  tag,” he said. “I know it’s a thing that’s been dragged along  with South Africa. But I just see it as you either win or you  lose a game.
“We proved to those people who thought we were chokers wrong  in that game against India because that was as high a pressure  situation as you can get and we pulled it through.”
Du Plessis’ leg-spin has been used sparingly in India with  Johan Botha, Robin Peterson and Imran Tahir bearing the brunt of  the burden in an attack which for once in South African history  is not mainly dependent on pace.
“Tahir has brought us a lot of wickets in the tournament and  so has Robin,” said off-spinner Botha, who added he was happy to  play a holding role.
“We have world class seamers and I think they have done  their job so far in the tournament. Now we do have a really good  bowling attack.”

South Africa meet a New Zealand team who struggled against  the Sri Lankan spinners in the group stages after losing four  one-day internationals in Bangladesh last year.
Ross Taylor, their best player of spin, took the Pakistan  bowling apart in the win which propelled the Kiwis to the  knockout stages while Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder can be  equally destructive.
The problem with the current New Zealand batting line-up is  a lack of consistency although McCullum was upbeat at the  prospect of meeting South Africa.
“To play South Africa in those conditions is not a bad draw  at all,” he said.
“They obviously prefer a little more pace and bounce in  their wickets. Dhaka won’t quite give them that and I’m sure  they’ll be a little disappointed.”
New Zealand will still need everything to go their way on  Friday against a team who are superior in both batting and  bowling.
If they are to remain competitive captain Daniel Vettori,  their best all-round player, will need to play a full part after  missing two games following a knee injury in the win over  Pakistan. There is also an injury doubt over the Kiwi’s most  experienced pace bowler Kyle Mills who sat out the loss to Sri  Lanka because of a thigh muscle injury.

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