South Africa finally got their first win of the competition in their fifth game against Afghanistan. The problem for the Proteas is that they still have lots of work to do. They cannot afford to lose any games they play and should also hope that other results go their way as well. The problem for South Africa has been their batting. They have struggled to find any consistency and quite a few of their batters are completely out of form. Hashim Amla who has been the backbone South African ODI team has been struggling over a year now and his innings of 40 odd against Afghanistan was one of scratchiest innings you will see. Their middle order also has been struggling, David Miller, Jean-Paul Duminy and whoever has played has struggled.
The batting has been carried along by captain Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock so far without any support. Their bowling also suffered quite a blow when Dale Steyn had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury. They also missed Lungi Ngidi for a couple of games due to injury as well. They need to pull themselves up and hope that their batters can put up good performances against a good New Zealand attack. All games from now on for South Africa is a must win.
New Zealand though hasn’t had any issues so far. They are sitting pretty on 7 points from four games and haven’t lost a game yet. The only problem for the Blackcaps is that they haven’t been tested fully yet. They are yet to play the top flight teams as their game against India was a washout. This game begins their series of matches against the top teams and they would like to continue their winning momentum as things can easily go pear-shaped for the Kiwis.
Their batting has bee good but the games they have won so far has been due to their fantastic bowling attack. Trent Boult, Matt Henry, and Lockie Ferguson have been brilliant and so have been their all-rounders. The spin hasn’t played many roles for New Zealand so far and might be important against South Africa who is known to struggle against good spin.
Head to Head:
South Africa historically has been a superior team in ODIs to New Zealand and their head to head shows that but in the world cup through the Blackcaps have been dominant with a 5-2 Win/Loss record.
Quinton de Kock (South Africa): Quinton de Kock has been in good form for South Africa in this world cup and has looked the most fluent of all their batters. The strength of the New Zealand bowling attack is with the new ball and it will be important for Quinton to bat through the initial overs and convert his starts to a big one. This will ease the pressure on the struggling middle order.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa): In the absence of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada becomes the crucial member of the new ball attack. He is one of the best in the business and it will be important for South Africa to nip out the top four of New Zealand batting line up. New Zealand’s middle order hasn’t been tested much and getting early breakthroughs will be crucial.
Martin Guptill (New Zealand): New Zealand is a top-heavy team with a host of all-rounders in the lower middle order. Guptill is one of the best ODI batters in the world and he will have his task cut out against the pace of Ngidi, Rabada, and Morris. Since his partner is a bit of a hit and miss, he will be the one to negotiate the new ball and score big.
Mitchell Santner (New Zealand): The importance of Mitchell Santner is a no brainer. South Africa’s struggles playing spin is well documented and Santner is a good white ball bowler and can really trouble the Protea batters. He might get Ish Sodhi for the company today but again we will have to wait and see on that.
What they said?
“I just finished a fitness today and I passed that. So I’m match-fit ready,” Ngidi who is expected and to make a comeback said. “It’s 100%. That’s how a fitness test goes. If you are not bowling at 100%, then you are not ready to play, so today was as hard as I could go in match intensity. That’s all that I can bring to the game as well, and that’s what is expected.”
“I don’t think we are going out there to be the nice guys of world cricket or put on a front of any sorts. We are just being genuine in being who we are and I think we just play the game in good spirits really. It’s just a game in my opinion and it’s about enjoying it. I think that’s why a lot of guys and girls and kids follow the team because we just go out and have fun.” Said Trent Boult ahead of the much important game against South Africa
New Zealand XI:
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme/Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult
South Africa XI:
Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir
South Africa are under tremendous pressure to turn this around. Every game for them from here is a must win and a loss here will make it terribly difficult for them to qualify. This has been their worst World Cup performance after the 2003 debacle and they would like to change that. For New Zealand through this game probably will tell them how good they are. They have beaten teams so far who they were expected to beat and this is the first game that will test them. It will be an interesting one and even though New Zealand is stronger, South Africa in this mood cannot be written off.