first_imgSpin is expected to play a crucial, even dominant, role when South Africa clash with New Zealand in the third World Cup quarter- final here on Friday.South Africa captain Graeme Smith gave enough hints that he might include all three spinners – leg- spinner Imran Tahir, left- armer Robin Peterson and offie Johan Botha – in the XI, encouraged after watching Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi and other spinners snatch eight of the 10 West Indies wickets on Wednesday afternoon at the Sher- e- Bangla Stadium.Smith’s New Zealand counterpart Daniel Vettori is, however, relying on his top order batsman to deliver the goods in the knock- out game.Vettori’s confidence must have been boosted after big- hitter Brendon McCullum recovered from a knee injury to keep wickets too.Vettori’s troublesome knee, due to which he missed the matches against Canada and Sri Lanka, is better and he will return to lead the side again in the most important game so far for a team that has so far failed to meet expectations.Going by the captains’ views, it’s going to be a battle between South African spin – not to forget their fast bowlers – and New Zealand batting. Even Vettori can exploit the pitch if it continues to provide as much assistance as it did to Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez.While New Zealand will be battling to put behind their indifferent form in the league stage, South Africa will be looking to lay the ghosts of the past World Cups and shrug off the chocker’s tag once and for all.advertisement’ Chocker’ and ‘ jinxed’ are the words that have often described the South African teams over the years, since their reentry into international cricket in early 1990s, for their tendency to lose crucial matches. And these words are likely to keep reminding Smith and his players on Friday that they have another opportunity to prove their critics wrong.Smith – and premier all- rounder Jacques Kallis – would take motivation from Dhaka city where South Africa won a major ODI title in 1998, though the venue was Bangabandhu Stadium.In the final of the ICC Knock- Out Tournament, as the Champions Trophy was then called, Kallis bagged five wickets and scored 37 in the final against the West Indies to win the man- of- the- match and man- of- the- tournament awards.Going by the two teams’ performance in the league stage, South Africa start as favourite to win the day- night encounter and inch closer to that elusive World Cup. But history will count for nothing and it is the form of the day that will come into play.Both teams fared differently in the league, with South Africa topping Group B with 10 points and the Kiwis just managing to scrape through from Group A, finishing fourth with eight points. Significantly, South Africa lost only one match, to England, but that narrow defeat again raised the ‘ chocker’ issue.South Africa started with a sevenwicket win over the West Indies and demolished the Netherlands before running into England and losing by six runs in a nail- biting thriller.However, they recovered and won a close game against India and that result would have given them the much- needed confidence. They didn’t have difficulty in brushing aside Ireland and Bangladesh to ease into the quarter- finals.New Zealand began their campaign on a high note by thumping a hapless Kenya before Australia thrashed them. Vettroi’s side bounced back with a 10- wicket win over a weak Zimbabwe and surprised Pakistan and expectedly beat the lowly Canadian side.Although the Kiwis lost to Sri Lanka, they made it to the second stage as anticipated.South Africa may be in form now, but the local fans would support New Zealand as Smith’s team defeated Bangladesh to shut them out of the quarter- final race.last_img