Two heavyweights meet in the one match at the ICC Cricket World Cup on Wednesday when New Zealand take on South Africa in what could be a rehearsal for a semi-final or more later in the tournament.
Both these teams are on course to make the last four although South Africa will begin the game more secure in that position so the onus is probably on New Zealand after successive defeats to close the door on the chasing pack, which aren’t exactly banging the door down anyway to be fair.
The 2015 and 2019 finalists arrived in India very much under the radar and not really being spoken about as potential winners of this event but after winning their opening four matches in pretty convincing fashion they catapulted themselves into the reckoning of many but with that came an added sense of expectation and since then they have dropped two matches, although to be fair to them they have been competitive in both of them.
New Zealand ran India as close as they have been challenged in this competition and there is a case to be made that they could have won the match against Australia even though they were chasing a daunting score so it isn’t like the wheels have come off for the Kiwis and if they get back to winning ways here then they can move back on track for emulating the run of the last two ODI World Cup events and push for a place in the final.
I wouldn’t say South Africa have been the surprise package of the tournament because their form was making people take notice of them ahead of them arriving in India but they have certainly been one of the better teams in it and if they win this match then they will have secured their qualification for the semi-finals. Even if they don’t win this game they will have two more chances to pick up the win which would guarantee their advancement into the last four.
The big positive for South Africa in this tournament has been their batting. When they have batted first they have been absolutely brutal with their opponents but in the two matches they have chased they have lost to the Netherlands and literally fell over the line against Pakistan and that is a concern. Their bowling has been consistent and everyone has been among the wickets which is a positive but they need to prove they can win a game chasing convincingly before I truly trust them.
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New Zealand have one or two doubts heading into this match with the main one being Lockie Ferguson who could only bowl three overs against Australia before going off injured. His fitness will be tested as will that of Mark Chapman.
South Africa are expected to being Kagiso Rabada back into their ranks for this match and as seems to have been the case all tournament they need to decide whether to play the extra spinner in Tabraiz Shamsi or the extra seamer in Gerald Coetzee.
I can’t ignore New Zealand at odds against here. Admittedly I would rather know for sure that they are batting first because I have no faith in South Africa completing any sort of pressurised run chase but even if New Zealand do bat second they comfortably chased a fair sized score against England and nearly chased down the better part of 400 in their last game, which was only as many as that because Lockie Ferguson went down after three overs.
South Africa have messed up a run chase against the Dutch and while they got home against Pakistan last time out they did everything they could to lose that before falling over the line. I don’t think New Zealand will let them off the hook in the same way and I think New Zealand will bat stronger than Pakistan did and with a full complement of bowlers I think the Kiwis can get the job done here. New Zealand for me.
Back New Zealand to beat South Africa for a 3/10 stake at 2.20 with Coral