South Africa v UAE
Thursday March 12, 01:00 GMT
Live on Sky Sports World Cup
Skipper AB De Villiers believes that his South African side are the best team at this World Cup but we've certainly seen two distinct sides to their game. There are the record breaking batters who set another benchmark with two consecutive scores over 400 but two defeats against India and Pakistan do little to dissuade those who believe the 'chokers' medal will be awarded once again in the knockout stages.
"I believe 100 percent we're the best team in the tournament," De Villiers said. Potentially they are but their first five games have followed a distinct pattern. Batting first they post big scores and even when in trouble at 83-4 against Zimbabwe, David Miller and JP Duminy combined to add 256 - yet another record.
Scoreboard pressure is a different animal however and De Villiers' men have failed to chase down 'gettable totals'. Thursday's game may tell us little but the Proteas might want to bat second in an attempt to prove a point.
United Arab Emirates
Like the majority of the Associates who should be allowed to compete at future World Cups, UAE haven't been disgraced and if they can avoid a complete humiliation in Wellington, they may just have enough confidence to target a struggling West Indian outfit at the weekend. In Shaiman Anwar, they even unleased a dangerman who would have induced coaches to reach for their laptops, analyse all that data, and work out a plan for a man who at one stage headed the tournament top batsman list.
Anwar is a key figure in this game, especially as Steyn and Morkel are likely to expose the middle order early. UAE posted scores approaching 300 in their opening matches and as we have seen, a similar target could actually test a South African side who a vulnerable batting second. If they bowl first however, the attack doesn't look capable of preventing their opponents from breaching 400 once again.
Venue and Conditions
Two games at the Regional Stadium in Wellington have produced two very contrasting first innings scores of 123 and 309-6. Puzzling figures perhaps until you realise that England were involved on both occasions. That 123 against New Zealand proved that if conditions are right, there is plenty for the swing bowlers but the game against Sri Lanka was more telling as their opponents chased down their target with 16 balls to spare having never really put their foot down.
Rain is expected to stay away so it's all about South Africa with the surface a little irrelevant. Bat first and the favourites will seriously target 400 but if UAE take first knock, Steyn et al will be looking to emulate India, who dismissed the same opponents for just 102.
Odds of 46.045/1 on the UAE reflect the fact that a win for the outsiders would be put down as the biggest shock in 40 years of the World Cup. Meanwhile, if you like a tiny profit, South Africa are quoted at 1.021/50.
We've suggested that a target approaching 300 could test this South African side but while UAE made 285 against Zimbabwe and 278 against Ireland, their 102 at the hands of India is a more accurate indication of what they could expect to achieve against the best bowling attack in the section.
Top South Africa Batsman
The theory is that the openers will score heavily and leave little time for the middle order batters to accumulate and that's why the hopelessly out of touch Quinton De Kock is second favourite in this market at 4.3100/30.
Hashim Amla is a more credible candidate at 3.259/4 but AB De Villiers is a standout for me at a generous 4.94/1. The skipper could walk to the wicket at 200-2 with 20 overs left and still overtake the highest individual score and although that is an extreme scenario, 4.94/1 is too good to turn down.
10 maximums or over is a very short priced option here at 1.331/3 but this market very much depends on who takes first knock. If UAE make first use of the facilities, 6-9 will prove relatively generous at 2.0621/20.
Back AB De Villiers to top score for South Africa at 4.94/1