Haddin hails New Zealand
. . . as Proteas skipper slams teammates
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.