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Pumped up Kiwis face mighty SA

Pumped up Kiwis face mighty SA
A pumped up New Zealand’s energy will clash with the seemingly unmatched might of South Africa when the two teams strive to shed the past baggage of semifinal failures and seal a historic place in the World Cup final on Tuesday. Both the teams are chasing history for as neither hosts New Zealand nor the Proteas have ever reached the World Cup final.

The Kiwis have fallen at the semifinal stage six times in the past while South Africa have made three exits from the same stage. New Zealand were a dominant side in the pool stage and the way they annihilated the West Indies in the quarterfinal, thanks to the batting pyrotechnics of Martin Guptill, the hosts are bubbling with new-found energy.

They have looked unstoppable with seven straight wins with every match throwing up a new hero, the latest being Guptill, who smashed his way to history books with a scintillating 237 not out against the Caribbeans.

New Zealand have treated the rival attacks with utter disdain so far but in the Proteas, they face the might of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who when in form can devastate any batting line-up in the world. The only worrying factor for New Zealand is they have lost paceman Adam Milne to a heel injury, making way for young fast bowler Matt Henry in the squad.

It is the last match that New Zealand will host in this edition and they would love to sign off on home turf on a winning note but the opponents they are facing now are equally potent and more dangerous than any other team. While New Zealand have always played as underdogs, the Proteas have carried the tag of chokers along and it won’t leave team if they fail to win on Tuesday.

De Villiers himself would be crucial to how the strong contenders perform on Tuesday given that his bat has been the most potent among all his teammates. Higher up the order, it would be the responsibility Hashim Amla and the back-in-form Quinton de Kock. But Faf du Plessis’ bat has been relatively quiet and a big innings would be expected of it now. It is difficult to predict on Tuesday’s winner as the two teams possess able batsmen and equally potent attacks, holding out promise for an explosive clash.

Teams (from) NZL: Brendon McCullum (Captain), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Luke Ronchi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson and Matt Henry.

SA: AB de Villiers (Captain), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, A Phangiso, V Philander, R ossouw, Dale Steyn.

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KEY CLASHES


1 AB de Villiers vs Daniel Vettori


World’s number one ODI batsman AB de Villiers is just about the biggest scalp in cricket right now. The South Africa captain leads his team’s batting statistics in every category and getting his wicket early is a must for New Zealand. De Villiers is freakishly talented, quick on his feet, possesses a seemingly endless array of shots and appears to have no fear when batting. Good fielding is also crucial when it comes to de Villiers. More than 11 per cent of his dismissals have been run outs, and the skipper is known to take fielders on. Vettori’s most influential performance for CWC15 so far was at Eden Park against Australia, when he was brought on by skipper Brendon McCullum to halt the fast-flowing runs from the Australian top order and snared the key dismissals of Shane Watson and Steve Smith. A gifted fielder, Vettori showed his aging body still has what it takes in the quarter-finals when he took a one-handed screamer that was quite possibly the catch of the tournament.

2 Brendon McCullum vs Dale Steyn

When New Zealand and South Africa walk out on to the Eden Park field, it is unlikely anyone will be more fired up than this pair. Black Caps skipper has shown he will not take a backwards step this tournament and has no time for circumspect cricket and no intention of changing his game plan. He will go hard from ball one and if it comes off, it could be the defining factor in the match. But as shown when he was dismissed for 12 in the quarter-final, McCullum’s aggressive, no holds barred approach can be a risky one. When Dale Steyn steps on to a cricket field, the easy-going South African transforms from easy going to the fiercest of fast bowlers. The tournament has not seen the best of Steyn yet, he has taken 10 wickets in seven matches at an average of 27. But if Steyn bowls at his best, the Black Caps bowlers will find it difficult to negotiate his combination of controlled swing and extreme speed.

3 Hashim Amla vs Trent Boult

Hashim Amla is generally given second billing when discussing South Africa’s batsman thanks to the exploits of his captain, but the unassuming batsman is consistently brilliant. Earlier in the tournament, he became the fastest batsman to 20 ODI centuries. He reached the milestone in 108 innings, overtaking previous record-holder Kohli by a massive 25 innings. That knock in Canberra was also Amla’s second in excess of 150 for the year and he has also scored two fifties this tournament, with a total of 323 runs at 46.14. The Black Caps could not ask for better players to attack Amla than Trent Boult and Tim Southee. The paceman have been consistently tearing apart opposition batting line-ups this tournament and Boult sits on top of the WC wicket-takers. He has taken 19 wickets at 14.63, including 5-27 against Australia, and will be the perfect player to attack Amla, and de Kock for that matter, with a barrage of pace.

4 Ross Taylor vs Imran Tahir

When the teams met in the 2011 Ross Taylor was the second-highest scoring Black Cap with 43 runs. The man who denied him a half-century was none other than Imran Tahir and it is more than likely the two will do battle again through the middle overs of New Zealand’s innings. Taylor has not set the world alight during the group stages of with scores of 14, 9, 5*, 1 and 24*, but scored 56 against Bangladesh in the final pool game before a determined 42 during the quarterfinal against West Indies. Tahir has been in excellent form. He was player of the match in Sydney after taking 4-26 in the quarters and has 15 wickets at 18.86.

–  2015 © ICC Development (International) Limited

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