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Cricket World Cup 2019: Unbeaten New Zealand Look to Continue Streak Against Embattled Proteas

Cricketnext Staff |June 19, 2019, 1:20 PM IST
Cricket World Cup 2019: Unbeaten New Zealand Look to Continue Streak Against Embattled Proteas

More than four years since South Africa and New Zealand gave the world a semi-final that left a lasting impression on the consciousness of both nations, the two sides will go head to head once again at the World Cup stage. The scenario this time around is a tad different though.

It is no semi-final but South Africa's lacklustre start to the 2019 campaign means they need to win almost every game hereon to give themselves a shot at reaching the semis. New Zealand, on the other hand, unbeaten so far after four games are sitting pretty.

The difference shows on the points table. South Africa, who have won one game, lost three and suffered a washout are eighth on the points table just behind West Indies. New Zealand are placed second having won three out of their four outings while the one against India was forced into abandonment due to rain.

This means South Africa need to win all of their remaining games to harbour hopes of making it to to the last four. The way they have been plagued with injuries and have had to deal with a lot of off-field issues, it is not going to be easy.

South Africa's recent record against New Zealand though will inspire some confidence. Since the last World Cup the sides have played eight one-day internationals with South Africa winning five of them, including both series deciders.

South Africa are coming off a solid nine-wicket win against Afghanistan. That is bound to give them confidence. What will also further up their hopes is the return of Lungi Ngidi, who is certain to make a comeback into the side possibly in place of Beuran Hendricks. Barring Kagiso Rabada at the start, South Africa really haven't been able to strike early an area that might get sorted with Ngidi back in the mix.

The Proteas will also dearly hope for Hashim Amla to strike some form. He showed glimpses of it in the side's last game against Afghanistan where he compiled a gritty 41 off 83 balls chasing 126. How he handles the pressure with runs the need of the hour will be crucial. Quinton de Kock and Fat du Plessis have largely looked solid so has Rassie van der Dussen. In case, Aiden Markram and David Miller also come to the party, who knows South Africa might actually pull a rabbit out of the hat.

There are fewer concerns for the Black Caps. The one thing that will go against them is not enough game time in the recent past. New Zealand last played a game on June 8 before their encounter against the Indians got washed out. If Kane Williamson is to be believed, some time off will help the side, but having not been on the field for a good 10 days is somewhere down the line likely to make the players slightly rusty.

But thankfully for New Zealand, they can afford a bit of leeway. They have struck reasonable form with solid wins against Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The top-order has been firing, the pace trio of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry has been breathing fire while the likes of Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner have more than done a decent job so far.

All of their 15 players are available for selection for the first time with the duo of Tim Southee and Henry Nicholls back to full fitness. It remains to be seen whether Williamson opts to go for Southee in place of possibly Henry or chooses to not disturb a winning combination.

What will also be interesting to see is how the Edgbaston surface behaves. This will be the first game of the tournament played on the surface so there will be the initial hardness which other venues might not offer. Historically, batsmen have had a good time in Birmingham but with both teams packing solid pacers, the new ball will become absolute key. There is a forecast for rain in Birmingham later in the afternoon which might also dictate what the teams might do after winning the toss.

Last Five ODIs

South Africa

W NR L L L

Things haven't really gone South Africa's way since they landed on England shores. Dale Steyn and Anrich Nortje were ruled out of the entire competition while an injury has kept Ngidi on the sidelines as well. They lost their first three games against England, Bangladesh and India before a washout got them on the board. A win against Afghanistan would have got them in good stead and they will hope to carry the momentum against New Zealand.

New Zealand

NR W W W W

On the contrary, New Zealand seem to not put a foot wrong. They brushed aside Sri Lanka by 10 wickets in the opener before registering a hard-fought two-wicket win over Bangladesh. They then once again stomped their authority demolishing Afghanistan by seven wickets while the game against India was washed out.

Players to watch out for

Hashim Amla: The opener has looked a pale shadow of his former self often falling to chasing balls out of the off stump. He, however, did gain some form against Afghanistan and will hope he builds on the same come Wednesday. Amla is a key player for South Africa and how he performs will go a long way in the eventual outcome of the contest for South Africa.

Trent Boult: The left-arm pacer hasn't really set the World Cup on fire but he has been precise with his lengths. With conditions predicted to be overcast, Boult will fancy his chances with the new ball and if he gets his swing going, it could really mean tough work for the South Africa batsmen.

Team News/Availability

South Africa: Ngidi is available for the first time this tournament for South Africa and is likely to replace Hendricks in the playing eleven.

New Zealand: All 15 of their squad is available for selection.

Squads:

South Africa: Quinton de Kock(w), Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis(c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Beuran Hendricks, Lungi Ngidi, Dwaine Pretorius, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jean-Paul Duminy

New Zealand: Kane Williamson, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

Pos Team P W L T/NR PTS NRR
1
IND
9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
2
AUS
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
3
ENG
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
4
NZ
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
5
PAK
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
6
SL
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
7
SA
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
8
BAN
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9
WI
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
10
AFG
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more