Friday, March 4, 2011

Preview: New Zealand vs Zimbabwe , 18th Match

This may not be the David vs. Goliath encounter that we have come to see many times over the past few days. New Zealand have endured torrid form off late, being walloped by Bangladesh, India and then Pakistan while Zimbabwe troubles too have not been much less. The African side however, need not look farther than the Ireland-England game for inspiration after the minnows' stunning win against the English. Canada too produced a superb performance to trouble Pakistan. Is another upset on the cards? 

New Zealand 

After rather disastrous World Cup preparations, New Zealand got off to a flyer, skittling Kenya out for an embarrassing 69 before romping home in just 48 balls. Hamish Bennett was the undoubted star in that match with some hostile bowling. In their next encounter, an emotionally charged battle against Australia, they lost to the rivals. Nathan McCullum was one of the few players to have a good outing with the bat, top scoring with a fifty while the rest struggled to come to terms with the pace Brett Lee and Shaun Tait produced. 

Their batting was woefully exposed against pace in that match, and Zimbabwe could do well to use that to their advantage. Their batting on recent occasions has depended heavily on the lower order or individual brilliance, but it would be the ideal opportunity for them to work as a team against Zimbabwe. 

Their bowling delivered the goods in emphatic fashion against Kenya but could not repeat the performance against a red hot Australia. They have a good mix of pace and spin to trouble the top teams, but are very inconsistent. Talisman and captain Daniel Vettori has often been the lone fighter for New Zealand with consistent performances and New Zealand will want the others bowlers to contribute too. 

Zimbabwe 

Zimbabwe will come into the game with more confidence than the Black Caps after they thumped the Canadians in the previous match with Tatenda Taibu, Craig Ervine and Ray Price doing the bulk of the damage for the African side. 

From the batting front, Zimbabwe seemed to have a settled line up with Brendon Taylor, Tatenda Taibu, Craig Ervine and captain Elton Chigumbura capable of taking the game away from the opposition. They will, however, have a much tougher task against NZ. 

Ray Price, a bowler who has a run up that matches menacing fast bowlers at times, is Zimbabwe's most attacking option. The left armer bowls with great discipline and is at his threatening best when bowlers try to go after him. Zimbabwe will be reliant on the spinner to give them quick wickets as they aim to get their second win under their belts. 

Head to Head 

New Zealand and Zimbabwe have played each other 28 times before and the Kiwis have come out on top on 19 occasions and have been part of a tie once. Zimbabwe have won 7 times. One match was called off. 

Quotes 

Ross Taylor: As a batting unit we need to step up and score about 300-330 which is the par score in this tournament. We are all very talented. We are getting out there in the middle and just getting ourselves out. It's frustrating but we know we are not far away from that one good performance. 

Ray Price : It is very important for us (the win against Canada). But you try not to think too much of that because in cricket if you think about the results then you forget about what you are supposed to do and control the areas you are supposed to bowl at.

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