But, there could be an interesting possibility, if England can elevate their game and come out victors against the South Africa and both Bangladesh and West Indies win their remaining two games of the Super eights, there will be a four way tie for the fourth position and Net Run Rate might play a big part in deciding who advances to the semi-final. Graeme Smith’s 5 overs which went for 56 runs during the final stages of their game against West Indies may come back and haunt him if it comes down to that.
More than anything else it was the coin-toss that had huge influence on the outcome of the New Zealand and South Africa encounter. Fleming called it correctly and did not hesitate to put South Africa in. Bond and Franklin opened the bowling quiet magnificently and by end of third over South Africa lost both their openers with just 3 runs on the board. Both Bond and Franklin just stuck to the basics of bowling from wicket to wicket and the pitch did rest under overcast and drizzly conditions. South Africa could make just 12 runs in the first power play and easily surpassed Ireland’s crawl of 18 for 2 against Australia just a day ago.
Kallis and Gibbs added 49 painful runs for the third wicket before a rare rush of blood by Jacques Kallis ended the partnership. With just two balls left in the 3rd power play he came forward and tried hitting Vettori over the extra cover without getting to the pitch of the delivery. Ever since Kallis took the criticism about his slow batting against Australia, he has been batting not in his characteristic style and if one important thing that South Africa needed from him today, it was his characteristic rock like batting style around which they would have built their innings to a defendable total.
At 52 for 3, Ashwell Prince joined Herchelle Gibbs and they both played some sensible cricket and took South Africa’s total to 122 for 3 by the end of 36th over. Then in one of his masterly moves Fleming tossed the ball to Craig McMillan. McMillan who bowled just 13 overs in the last 7 games of this tournament provided the much needed break immediately by getting Gibbs’ wicket. He went on to claim two more important victims Prince and Boucher in the same spell as South Africa suffered a mini-collapse from 128/3 to 149/6. McMillan returned with figures of 3 for 23 of his five over spell and South Africa’s total of 193 for 7 was at least 30-40 runs short of what they would have wished for.
As happened in New Zealand-Sri Lanka encounter the pitch eased out for the team batting second and New Zealand took advantage of both the pitch and the situation as they went about grafting the runs against the bowlers with out taking any undue risks of going after the bowling, exactly like Sri Lanka did against them. In addition to the ineffective bowling, South Africa’s fielding left a lot to be desired as three catches were dropped at very crucial stages of the game. Price dropped Styris when he was just four and Gibbs failed to hang on to a Fleming’s slash when he was on 36, there by nullifying the batting efforts they put together earlier in South African innings. Boucher too dropped a catch of Fleming when he was on 24 after getting a glove on to a mistimed pull. Both Fleming and Styris notched up fifties without bothering about the strike rate before they were out. However, McMillan stayed till the end with an unbeaten 38 to ensure Kiwis seal the victory and a semi-final spot and deservedly won the Man of the Match award for his terrific all round performance.
Sri Lanka and New Zealand now have the luxury of resting some of their players and experimenting a little in their remaining Super eight games whereas for South Africa it’s must win game when they meet England on Tuesday. Graeme Smith definitely wouldn’t like the net run rate becoming a deciding factor for semi-final spot.
Today’s ‘Quiztion of the Day’ relates to the duck that AB de Villiers has recorded in this match. Here it is:
AB de Villiers’ fourth duck of this World Cup gives him the unwanted record of scoring most number of ducks in a single WC tournament. There are seven other cricketers who got out for a duck thrice in the same tournament. Nathan Astle of New Zealand, Kris Srikkanth of India, Keith Arthurton of West Indies, and WK McCallan of Ireland are four of them. Name the other three players.
Remember to email your answers for each quiz individually to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line as 'Quiztion of the Day - X' (X being the question number) through out the tournament duration. Results will be first posted on http://www.dreamcricket.com/ website within a week of the World Cup Final.