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Bond is key for New Zealand to challenge
Mark Meadows | April 23, 2007 11:51 IST
Apart from Australia's Shaun Tait, Bond is the only true express paceman on show at this World Cup and even on the slower Caribbean wickets he has shown what a huge asset he can be.
He has grabbed 12 wickets in his seven matches at an average of 12.83 with a superb economy rate of 2.58 an over.
His consistent lines and length, changes of pace and sudden extra zip have marked him out from the rest and he deserves his place in a World Cup semi-final.
New Zealand have so often been shorn of his talents because of persistent injuries throughout his career.
The former policeman has come back from potentially crippling stress fractures to his back and feet to reclaim his place among the world's swiftest bowlers.
The 31-year-old has only played 16 tests and a comparatively low 66 one-day internationals for a man who burst on to the scene with three for 53 on his limited overs debut against Australia back in January 2002.
In all Bond has taken 34 wickets in 11 matches against Australia at an excellent average of 13.88.
He took six for 23 in a World Cup match four years ago in Port Elizabeth and bagged a hat-trick in a January tri-series game.
He then returned five for 23 at the start of New Zealand's 3-0 whitewash win in the Chappell-Hadlee series in February.
He may have missed out on playing the defending champions on Friday but his captain Stephen Fleming was already looking forward to him bowling against them in Saturday's final if the Kiwis beat Sri Lanka and Australia down South Africa.
"We've beaten Australia recently and if there's a bit of bounce and a bit of seam movement goes our way, pressure can be created," Fleming told reporters.
"We talk about accuracy and the plans that we have asked for and that's all we really do. You just try and stay as specific as possible and as simple as possible.
"It's not a foregone conclusion, Australia are playing well but that can easily be whittled away with 10 overs of good cricket or 10 overs of poor cricket from Australia. It's where the excitement of this tournament is."
Sri Lanka comes first, though, at Sabina Park, Jamaica on Tuesday.
Unlike their 1996 World Cup victory, pundits believe Sri Lanka's bowling unit is now better and more varied than their batting department.
Removing stalwart Sanath Jayasuriya early or restricting his shots goes a long way to neutralising their batting threat.
Bond looks the most capable man left in the World Cup to do it.
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