Haddin hails New Zealand

. . . as Proteas skip­per slams team­mates

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

AUCK­LAND — Australia’s Brad Haddin show­ered praise on Cricket World Cup co-hosts and pool ri­vals New Zealand on Mon­day, say­ing the Black Caps’ “brave cricket” was the talk of the tour­na­ment.

New Zealand have won all three of their matches at this World Cup so far to top Pool A, while Australia thrashed arch-ri­vals Eng­land by 111 runs be­fore their match against Bangladesh was washed out with­out a ball bowled.

The Black Caps have im­pressed with their bold ap­proach in de­feat­ing Sri Lanka by 98 runs, de­feat­ing Scot­land by three wickets and thrash­ing Eng­land by eight wickets.

Bren­don Mccul­lum’s men bid­ding for New Zealand’s first World Cup ti­tle, are all but in the quar­ter­fi­nals ahead of their trans-tas­man clash against ti­tle favourites Australia in Auck­land on Satur­day - a match al­ready be­ing billed as a dress re­hearsal for the March 29 fi­nal at the Mel­bourne Cricket Ground.

As well as brag­ging rights, the win­ner of Satur­day’s match are likely to top the group and face a rel­a­tively weaker fourth-placed side from Pool B in the last eight.

“New Zealand are play­ing good cricket at the mo­ment. They’re they team ev­ery­one is talk­ing about in this World Cup,” Australia wick­et­keeper Haddin told re­porters on Mon­day.

“They are play­ing some brave cricket, play­ing with a lot of con­fi­dence. They’ve got danger­ous bat­ters and bowlers who are on form. We will have to bring our A-game to com­pete,” he added. “It will be a good test for us.” Australia will en­ter the match with no cricket since beat­ing archri­vals at the MCG on the open­ing day of the tour­na­ment on Fe­bru­ary 14.

Their sec­ond game against Bangladesh was aban­doned com­pletely due to heavy rain in Bris­bane on Satur­day, but Haddin played down the lack of match prac­tice.

“It would have been good to get a game but we’ve had a long sum­mer, so hav­ing a day off from cricket won’t hurt us,” said Haddin, with Australia hav­ing en­joyed a home Test and limited overs cam­paign against In­dia be­fore win­ning a one­day tri-se­ries also fea­tur­ing Eng­land.

“Our fast bowlers al­ways per­form bet­ter when fresh any­way,” he added.

Mean­while Haddin was look­ing for­ward to play­ing in front of a packed crowd in Auck­land.

“I think it’s ob­vi­ously an ex­cit­ing game. It’s two host teams com­ing to­gether in a World Cup match. It’s ob­vi­ously go­ing to be sold out at Eden Park,” he said.

Haddin high­lighted the form of New Zealand cap­tain Bren­don McCul­lum, whose stunning 25-ball 77 against Eng­land in­cluded an 18-ball fifty, the fastest in all World Cups, as an ex­am­ple of the ag­gres­sive ap­proach of the Black Caps.

“He’s play­ing some brave cricket,” said Haddin. “They’re all play­ing with a lot of con­fi­dence.”

De­spite all the hype around the match, the weather may yet have the fi­nal say as heavy rain has been fore­cast for sev­eral days in­clud­ing Satur­day.

A no-re­sult would ben­e­fit New Zealand more than Australia, who took only one point from their rained-off en­counter with Bangladesh -- a match where they were over­whelm­ing favourites for victory

Mean­while, South Africa cap­tain AB de Vil­liers lashed out at his team af­ter their mas­sive 130-run loss to In­dia in the World Cup on Sun­day, say­ing it was an “un­ac­cept­able” per­for­mance.

Af­ter de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons In­dia had piled up 307 for seven, with opener Shikhar Dhawan mak­ing 137, the Proteas were bun­dled out for 177 with al­most 10 overs to spare in front of a huge crowd of 86,878 at the Mel­bourne Cricket Ground.

“All round, we were very av­er­age,” said de Vil­liers. “We lacked dis­ci­pline in the field with dropped catches and un­tidy bowl­ing and two run-outs in our innings was un­ac­cept­able.”

The skip­per him­self was run out through a smart throw from the deep by Mohit Sharma and David Miller fol­lowed in sim­i­lar fash­ion soon af­ter­wards.

Faf du Plessis was the Proteas’ top-scorer with 55, the skip­per’s 30 the only other no­table con­tri­bu­tion.

“You al­ways feel the pres­sure of chas­ing 300, like play­ing shots you may not want to,” said de Vil­liers.

The cap­tain said los­ing the toss and bat­ting sec­ond un­der lights con­trib­uted to South Africa’s de­feat.

“It was a good wicket to bat on in the af­ter­noon,” he said. “But there was wear and tear in the evening. With­out mak­ing ex­cuses, I can say it was a bit two-paced as the match went on.

“It was a big knock for us to be beaten by 130 runs. We need to lick our wounds a while be­cause con­fi­dence takes a knock.”

How­ever, de Vil­liers was con­fi­dent his team, who’ve now won one and lost one at this tour­na­ment af­ter see­ing off Zim­babwe, will bounce back for their Pool B game against the West Indies in Syd­ney to­mor­row.

“We have a ma­ture group of play­ers,” he said. “We need to re­group be­fore Fri­day and I am con­fi­dent we will bounce back.”

The over­whelm­ing bulk of fans in a crowd of nearly 87,000 were In­dia sup­port­ers but de Vil­liers in­sisted a rau­cous at­mos­phere had not con­trib­uted to South Africa’s em­phatic loss.

“I don’t think that was the case,” he said. “As Hashim (Amla) said to me, In­dia bat­ted well. And we need to win games any­where if we want to be the best cricket team in the world. — Reuters

New Zealand cel­e­brate their win against eng­land.

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