Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 7th 2015 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, March 7, 2015
AUCKLAND---Just how good is AB de Villiers?
Pakistan captain Misbah ul-Haq rates the South
Africa captain as the best one-day batsman in the
world, which certainly confirms the International
Cricket Council rankings. South Africa pace bowler
Dale Steyn says watching de Villiers develop over the
years has been like watching the character Neo in
the movie The Matrix.
De Villiers performance could be pivotal when
South Africa plays Pakistan in a Cricket World Cup
Pool B match today at Auckland s Eden Park. Pakistan
is desperate to win and secure a spot in the quar-
terfinals, while South Africa wants to continue its
run of good form.
Rain is threatening to interrupt the match, a factor
which could push both teams into batting more
aggressively to ensure they maintain high run rates.
New Zealand s MetService is predicting moderate
rain showers to hit at about 6 pm during the day-
night match, a slight improvement from previous
forecasts predicting heavy showers. The covers
remained on the pitch much of Friday as showers
came and went.
South Africa has three wins and one loss from its
four matches. It scored more than 400 runs in each
of its last two games, against the West Indies and
Ireland, winning each game by more than 200 runs.
Against the West Indies, de Villiers was sublime,
stroking an unbeaten 162 off 66 balls. He reached
his century off 52 balls, the second-fastest in any
World Cup game.
Misbah said Pakistan had some good bowlers who
had a plan against de Villiers and who could put
pressure on him.
"But the only way of stopping AB is just try to get
him out," he added. "That s the only way I think.
Otherwise, if he s there, it s not easy to stop him."
Steyn joked that the way to stop de Villiers might
be to try to trip him on the way out of his hotel.
"He s just playing shots that I don t think most
people have ever seen before," he said.
Steyn, who began his first-class career with de
Villiers, said he remembers a talented young batsman
scoring a 50 in each of his first two innings and then
just continuing to get better.
"It s like watching The Matrix movie really," he
said. "There s Neo for you right there. Like he just
doesn t understand how good he is... I think he s
actually figured out now there is no roof or cap on
how good he can possible be. It s limitless what he
Pakistan has had a shaky start in the World Cup.
After losing its first two games against India and the
West Indies, the 1992 champions picked up four
points with wins over Zimbabwe and the United
Misbah rejected the idea that Pakistan s top-order
batsmen, none of whom have career strike rates above
80, need to be more aggressive. He said the team
has often lost early wickets and those batsmen have
been required to rebuild the innings.
A strong bowling attack, he said, ensured that if
Pakistan scored more than 250 runs it could put
pressure on any opponent.
"We have our targets and we play according to
our strengths," he said. "The kind of start we had
in the last game, if we can really repeat it against the
top sides, we could really manage to score 300."
Meanwhile, Steyn said it had been hard to con-
centrate on cricket over the last couple of days with
his mind on the wildfires in his home of Cape Town.
The fires have destroyed homes and caused hundreds
of people to evacuate. Steyn said he was in Canberra,
the Australian capital, when he took a frightening
South Africa to
in Pool B
NAPIER---New Zealand s Cricket World
Cup match against Afghanistan on Sunday
(today TT time), which shaped as one of
its least demanding in Pool A, might
instead become one of its most compound-
Afghanistan is unlikely to disturb New
Zealand s unbeaten progress through the
tournament---the tournament co-hosts top
the group with four wins---but there are
issues around the match which may have
to be carefully negotiated.
The largest of those is around selection.
New Zealand has used the same 11 for every
match so far, leaving the four additional
members of its squad without match prac-
Its campaign has been carefully planned
and it is likely coach Mike Hesson and cap-
tain Brendon McCullum will know the lineup
for Sunday but it hasn t yet been revealed
publicly, and there will be interest in seeing
whether New Zealand gives fresh players a
McCullum indicated earlier that the four
squad members who haven t yet played---
his brother Nathan, veteran seamer Kyle
Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan and batsman
Tom Latham---will play during the pool
stages. With matches remaining against
Afghanistan and Bangladesh, that rotation
now seems possible.
Mills and Latham are widely expected to
play against Afghanistan, Latham in place
of all-rounder Corey Anderson and Mills
for the young speedster Adam Milne. But
the selection issues are delicate.
Most importantly, it has been eight days
since New Zealand beat Australia by one
wicket at Eden Park and it will be another
seven days, after Sunday s match at McLean
Park, before it plays its last pool match
against Bangladesh at Hamilton.
That means that any frontline players
stood down at Napier will go two weeks
without cricket before they have the chance
to return against Bangladesh. At the same
time, coach Hesson is aware of giving the
members of his squad who haven t yet
played a chance to do so, should they be
needed later in the tournament.
Hesson will also be conscious that bats-
men such as Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott and
Luke Ronchi have spent very little time at
the crease---Brendon McCullum and Kane
Williamson have scored more than half of
New Zealand s runs---and they have to be
given the chance to bat whenever possible.
Fast bowler Tim Southee told reporters
that the four squad members who haven t
yet played were still a vital contribution to
"They are training the house down, bowl-
ing exceptionally well in the nets and offering
lots," he said.
"Yeah, their heads are up and doing what s
best for the team."
Veteran spinner Daniel Vettori wouldn t
speculate Friday on selection, but said he
was sure Hesson and McCullum would have
a decent plan.
"The fact is most of the guys won t have
played for a week anyway so everyone s in
that situation where they re ready for some
game time," he said. "Whichever way Mike
and Brendon go, the whole (squad) is ready
Vettori said Afghanistan, which beat Scot-
land for its first ever victory in the World
Cup, had been "quite impressive."
"They have a balanced line-up and...a
really good team," he said. "Frontline bowling
will be difficult and they have some very
good batters, so I think there is a bit of des-
peration (for the New Zealanders) to get out
there and play again.
"It s been a long time between games
and it s something that we are not used to.
We play every couple of days so once a week
is a little bit of a challenge." (AP)
New Zealand faces
SYDNEY---Sri Lanka has called all-
rounder Seekkuge Prasanna into its Cricket
World Cup squad as a replacement for
batsman Dimuth Karunaratne who suf-
fered a broken finger in training.
The International Cricket Council has
approved the replacement ahead of Sri
Lanka s game against Australia in Sydney
Prasanna, who has played 22 one-day
internationals for Sri Lanka, scoring 181 runs
and taking 22 wickets as a leg spinner, joined
the Sri Lanka squad in Australia earlier this
week as cover for spinner Rangana Herath
who suffered a hand injury in the win over
England. Herath had stitches inserted in his
spinning finger and remains in doubt for
the Australia match. (AP)
Prasanna joins Sri Lanka squad
New Zealand's Dan
Vettori takes a
catch to dismiss
England's Joe Root
during their Cricket
World Cup match in
Zealand on February
20. AP PHOTO
ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP
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