Pace will be ace for Proteas against NZ: Ponting
Auckland, March 23 (IANS) Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting on Monday said South Africa should consider unleashing an all-out pace assault against New Zealand in the semifinal of the Cricket World Cup on Tuesday.
Ponting said the Proteas should leave out leg-spinner Imran Tahir, their leading wicket-taker for the tournament with 15 scalps, and back their seamers to exploit the seam-friendly conditions in Auckland.
“Spinner Imran Tahir got four wickets for South Africa last match, but they might be tempted to load up with seamers for that ground and I reckon that will be a good tactic,” Ponting was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia (CA).
“The Kiwis have been extraordinary, but apart from Australia no bowling attack has asked any serious questions of their batsmen,” he said.
“It seems to swing for most of the game at Eden Park so the bowlers on both sides are going to make it hard for the batsmen and that movement makes it hard to exploit the short boundaries.”
Proteas pacer Vernon Philander has been declared fit for the knockout clash after missing their quarter-final win over Sri Lanka and appearing in just three of the six group matches due to a hamstring issue.
The right-arm pacer looks set to rejoin Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in the playing XI on Tuesday, while Kyle Abbott has done little wrong with nine wickets at an average of 14.44 from four matches.
New Zealand have displayed their strength at the top of the order with Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson and Saturday’s double-centurion Martin Guptill, but Ponting suggests the competition co-hosts are vulnerable through the middle order.
“I wonder a bit about the Kiwi middle order if South Africa go hard at them with four seamers,” the 40-year-old said.
“I think Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott and those blokes might find the going hard if the squeeze is put on them.”
South Africa enter the clash full of confidence after finally breaking through for their first victory in a World Cup knockout clash.
Ponting, who played in the famous semi-final tie against South Africa in the 1999 edition of the tournament, suggested the Proteas have gone a long way to shaking the ‘chokers’ tag that has stuck with them for so long.
“The team AB de Villiers has at the moment has shaken off a lot of the failings of previous South African sides,” Ponting said.
He further added, “Blokes like AB and Faf (du Plessis) and Hashim (Amla) seem to lift when the pressure is on and have banished that suggestion they will choke at the critical moment.”