2015 ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final preview – New Zealand vs South Africa
Both sides should remain unchanged after resounding victories in their quarter-finals, although South Africa still seem to be debating which of Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott should play. As a result it is possible that Abbott could be an omission from the team.
New Zealand (likely): Guptill, McCullum, Williamson, Taylor, Anderson, Elliot, Ronchi, Vettori, Southee, Milne, Boult.
South Africa (likely): Amla, de Kock, du Plessis, Rossouw, de Villiers, Miller, Duminy, Abbott/Philander, Steyn, Morkel, Tahir.
During the World Cup both sides have had clear preferences as to batting or bowling first. The South Africans have struggled chasing, but when batting first they have scored 339, 408, 411 and 341. New Zealand, on the other hand, have looked good fielding first and knocking the other side over for less than 200. This plan may work against the South Africans, but either way New Zealand should try to avoid setting. While they fell just 7 runs short of 400 in their quarter final almost all of that was Martin Guptill’s innings of 237 not out. South Africa will look to bat first, get runs on the board and put New Zealand under pressure.
Martin Guptill (New Zealand)
Guptill will be relied upon to make more runs than any other player in the New Zealand team. He is in brilliant form and has made scores of 57, 105 and 237 not out in his last three games. South Africa will look to knock him over quickly.
Hashim Amla (South Africa)
Amla plays a very steady hand in South Africa’s team, and their batting strategy is built around Amla and Faf du Plessis setting up AB de Villiers for the last fifteen overs. Amla will not bat particularly quickly, but his technique is unsurpassed and he will be difficult to get out.
Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
Williamson will be called upon at number three if there is an early wicket, and he will bat for as long as he can. He has a very cool head, as shown by his match-winning innings against Australia. He will be relied upon to string together partnerships and add to his one half-century for the World Cup.
Dale Steyn (South Africa)
Steyn is very economical at the start of the innings, but it is his wicket-taking South Africa will depend upon. If he can claim the prize scalps of McCullum and Guptill then he will have taken South Africa a long way towards putting New Zealand out of the tournament.
Trent Boult (New Zealand)
Boult will be looking to break the South African batting open like he did to the West Indies on Saturday. He has 19 wickets for the tournament, and he has dismissed some of the best players, including an in-form Kumar Sangakkara. He will need to knock over one or both of the openers early.
Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
Du Plessis has to occupy the crease with Amla, de Kock and possibly Rossouw so that de Villiers can do maximum damage. He is cool under pressure and his batting this tournament has been very good. If he can make a few runs he will be a big factor.
Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)
McCullum is an aggressive opening bat who will look to attack South Africa from the first ball. The Eden Park boundaries are small, and if he clears them regularly it will be very hard for South Africa. His and Martin Guptill’s are the key wickets at the start of the innings.
Imran Tahir (South Africa)
Tahir has been one of the most impressive spinners this tournament has seen. He has taken more wickets than any other South African bowler and has kept the runs down admirably. Today he will look to plug up scoring in the middle overs, much like Daniel Vettori will do for the kiwis.
While New Zealand have been practically flawless this tournament they will be under great pressure. They are still a young side, and the more experienced South Africans, having finally won a knockout match, will be very hard to knock off. South Africa to win a close one.