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Gibbs may face Black Caps

Herschelle Gibbs will have a fitness test on Wednesday before South Africa's key Super Eight clash against New Zealand at Kingsmead.

The match is the first in a double-header, with England playing India in the second match starting at 6pm.

Gibbs strained a hamstring during his explosive unbeaten 90 off 55 balls in South Africa's opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament against the West Indies at the Wanderers on September 11.

"Herschelle is continuing to work with the physio and he'll have a fitness test shortly before tomorrow's match," said Proteas coach Mickey Arthur on Tuesday.

He's been unbelievable in the nets - the injury doesn't hamper his batting - so obviously we're quite keen to get him on to the park."

Gibbs had a net and a throwdown on Tuesday afternoon, and Proteas physiotherapist Shane Jabaar said he had a better than even chance of playing.

"He worked at about 80 percent intensity today, and we will have to see if there's any reaction (Wednesday). If there is a reaction then he won't play, as we would then want him to play tomorrow. His chances have improved since Sunday, when we rated him at only 50-50," Jabaar said.

Arthur said he had great respect for the Black Caps.

"They've done well defending totals. They're a good side.

They really scrap hard. They've got the better of us in recent matches in the Champions Trophy and the World Cup, so we're really keen to reverse that tomorrow."

The coach said that while the tournament was unpredictable, with any team capable of winning on its day, teams that were rich in all-rounders and batted and bowled deep would always be formidable opponents. "Both New Zealand and us are quite lucky in that department," he said.

One of his allrounders, Albie Morkel, has been particularly successful, winning the man of the match award against England.

"He's been fantastic. You want him out there batting for you because he's so explosive. We're particularly pleased that he's also bowling so well."

Arthur said that apart from the possibility of Gibbs replacing JP Duminy in the opening berth, he expected to field the same team that beat England. "We've got momentum, and this is the team that's done it for us," he said.

Meanwhile, assistant groundsman Evan Flint expects the Kingsmead pitch to gradually become more batting friendly.

Last week the seam bowlers gained considerable assistance from the juiced-up surface.

Flint said the ICC pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson, had phoned at the weekend, saying that the pitch had been too green. "We tried our best to tame it," said Flint, "but there was a lot of moisture around and it was difficult."

The Test match pitch, which was used for yesterday's game between England and New Zealand, will also be used for today's double-header.

"It looked a bit slower today, and there's wasn't so much zip in it. We'll roll the pitch tomorrow morning with some of the dew from the covers, which should ensure an even bounce."

The weather forecast is good for Wednesday, Thursday and the semifinal on Saturday.

source - iol.co.za
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