South Africa-New Zealand battle could be close: Botha

March 22nd, 2011 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Ross Taylor Dhaka, March 22 (IANS) South Africa may be on a high after their scintillating performance in the World Cup group matches, but spinner Johan Botha feels their quarterfinal battle with New Zealand could be close as the Black Caps have the ability to beat anyone on their day.

“We know we are up against a quality side and if we are not going to be on top of our game, it’s going to be a tough match.

“You can’t go on New Zealand’s recent form. They are a good team and on their day they can beat anyone. I think it’s going to be close match and it can go either way,” the 28-year-old offbreak bowler told mediapersons after his side’s practice session here Tuesday.

Botha said he was looking forward to another good game of cricket against New Zealand here Friday and felt it was nice from South Africa’s point of view to have stayed on in Dhaka.

“It probably saved you a day-and-a-half travelling and getting everything sorted out. New Zealand are arriving only today. So it’s nice from our point of view that we could stay on, settle in, we know the ground and that will help us,” he said.

Botha, who has taken four wickets in the tournament so far, said his team had a good variety in slow bowling.

“Our three spinners are all different from each other. Immy (Imran Tahir) is a very attacking spinner and he has got lot of wickets. So has Robin (Peterson). I am probably doing a bit of a holding role, controlling from one side and they have been taking wickets, which is really good for us. We know we have got world class spinners and they have done their job so far in the tournament,” said Botha, who has taken 69 wickets in 73 ODIs.

Botha said New Zealand’s Ross Taylor was in “really good form in the World Cup, and the South Africans would finalise a strategy to contain him”. He also praised Brendon McCullum and Scott Styris.

Asked about New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori’s likely return to the team Friday after sitting out due to an injury, Botha said: “He is a world class bowler, he is in the top few in the rankings. He has done so well in his career for so long and we respect him highly.”

However, he said the South Africans have played spin well in the tournament and were looking forward to facing Vettori.

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