Springboks' fielding gives them an edge

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The Independent Online
Bob Woolmer, the South African coach, believes his side's superb fielding gives them an advantage of about 30 to 40 runs over their opponents. "The reputation of Jonty Rhodes alone is worth 25 to 30 runs on the board," Woolmer said as his team prepared to face England in Rawalpindi tomorrow.

Inspired by the fleet-footed Rhodes in the covers, South Africa produced a brilliant fielding display to restrict New Zealand to 177 off 50 overs in their last match at Faisalabad on Tuesday. They ran out three New Zealand batsmen with their swift and accurate throwing as they sealed a comfortable win.

Woolmer said his team's fielding gave them an important edge but he was not complacent about it. "People are saying the best fielding side will win the World Cup, but I don't subscribe to that," he said. "A fantastic innings from, say, a Brian Lara or a Sachin Tendulkar can beat you no matter how well you field."

Woolmer said South Africa are aiming to finish top of the standings in Group B in which they have won their first two matches. "Top sides will still try to put us under pressure. For us the key is to keep up the intensity we have shown in the field so far. If we can find that level in every match we play, then we'll get to the final."

The World Cup semi-final at Calcutta's Eden Gardens on 13 March will definitely go ahead after a row over crowd safety was settled. A safety certificate will be issued within the next 10 to 12 days. A row broke out last week when local authorities expressed concern about the safety of a new stand that is due to increase crowd capacity by 10,000 to 110,000.

The Cricket Association of Bengal responded by warning it might not hold the semi-final there unless the matter was sorted out quickly. It accused the authorities of red tape and said it was surprised the issue had been raised as Eden Gardens had hosted last week's opening ceremony without any problems.

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