New Zealand v South Africa: World Cup semi-final hopes at stake for Proteas

By Sports Desk June 18, 2019

South Africa will hope history fails to repeat itself when they bid to keep their Cricket World Cup hopes alive on Wednesday against New Zealand at Edgbaston.

With just one win from their opening five matches, the Proteas know anything but a victory will all but end their hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

There is no shortage of recent history between the sides in this competition, with the Black Caps having dramatically reached their first World Cup final four years ago at South Africa's expense courtesy of Grant Elliott's six off the penultimate ball.

They also defeated the Proteas at the quarter-final stage in 2011.

South Africa will at least be buoyed by the return of bowler Lungi Ngidi and an improved display in their previous outing - a rampant nine-wicket triumph over Afghanistan - provided a much-needed confidence boost.

That said, a far bigger challenge will be presented by New Zealand, whose attack has been in scintillating form so far this tournament with Mitchell Santner (3.83), Lockie Ferguson (3.88) and Trent Boult (4.20) all among the leading bowlers in terms of economy.

With seven points already, the Black Caps are well positioned for a top-four finish and a place in the knockout stages, though they do still have to face a number of the tournament's leading lights.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

The pressure is on for South Africa. There is scant margin for error as far as their semi-final hopes are concerned. Defeats to England, Bangladesh and India in their opening three matches followed by the abandonment of their game against West Indies has left them with it all to do. There were at least positive signs in their win over Afghanistan.

New Zealand, by contrast, have made a hugely promising start, winning their opening three matches against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before seeing their last outing, against India, abandoned due to the inclement weather. 

WHAT THEY SAID

South Africa wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock: "I think, obviously, it's a big game for us, but in saying that, our next three or four games that we have, they're all going to be big games anyway for us for the rest of the tournament. We're just going to have to go out there, keep our heads steady, and play freely."

New Zealand bowler Trent Boult on the chance to potentially knock out South Africa: "It's not driving us in any respect. Every World Cup game, in my opinion, is a big stage, and it's a chance for us to go out there and perform and show we can bring the game and the style that we play back home in New Zealand very well to test it against quality players in foreign conditions on a big stage in front of all these fancy cameras. So we can't wait."

OPTA FACTS

- This will be the eighth World Cup meeting between New Zealand and South Africa, the Black Caps have won five of the previous seven, including each of the last four.

- New Zealand have not won an ODI at Edgbaston since 1983, losing three times there with four no results. They do have three World Cup wins at the venue (two in 1983, one in 1975).

- South Africa spinner Imran Tahir has bowled 222 balls at this World Cup and is yet to be hit for six or bowl a wide or no ball, no other bowler has bowled as many deliveries without being hit for a maximum.

- New Zealand have won 11 of their last 12 completed World Cup matches, their only defeat in that run was the 2015 final to Australia at the MCG.

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