Black Caps preparing to renew old rivalry with South Africa
New Zealand and South Africa have a rich sporting rivalry, especially at major tournaments where the Black Caps hold the upper hand.
They have knocked South Africa out of the last two ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups, winning the quarterfinal in Dhaka in 2011 and the semi-final in Auckland in 2015, a match that remains one of the greatest in ODI history.
Trent Boult remembers sitting in the dressing-room hoping he would not be needed to bat in chase of 298. He also remembers the ecstasy when Grant Elliott hit the six that sealed New Zealand’s victory and is looking forward to creating more memories when the teams meet in Birmingham on Wednesday.
“There’s always been exciting games between New Zealand and South Africa over the past World Cups,” he said.
“The 2015 semi-final at Eden Park was one of the greatest games the Kiwis have played. Obviously, it got a lot of attention back home and was a cool one to be a part of.
“We’re definitely looking forward to facing them tomorrow and I’m sure they are eager and hungry to put in a big performance because it’s a big one for them as well.”
While New Zealand are unbeaten from their four matches so far (with three wins and a washout), South Africa have only one victory to their name and cannot afford another slip-up, which Boult believes could give his team an advantage.
He added: “If we can do things we do well and that we know that work well, put some pressure on and get some wickets, hopefully they will feel that pressure a little more.”
New Zealand’s attack is the only one to have dismissed their opposition in each match they have played this tournament.
And though Boult – the joint top wicket taker at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup four years ago – has only claimed three wickets, he is pleased with the way the bowlers have worked together.
He added: “We’ve got 30 wickets so that’s the main thing I am worried about.
“As a unit, we’ve been going really well. We’ve put the ball where we want it and we’ve put a lot of pressure against the teams we’ve come against. If we can continue to do it as a unit and give us some lower totals to chase, then I will be happy.”
Boult acknowledged that New Zealand’s task will get tougher at Edgbaston, where the surface may not offer as much assistance as the pitches in Cardiff, London and Taunton.
“It’s definitely going to be a good challenge to see where we are at,” he added.
“We’ve been lucky enough to be on a couple of newer surfaces that have offered a lot to our style of bowling.
“The challenge is going to be to see what we can do on wickets that don’t offer too much.
“That’s what we are prepared for here. It’s a quality wicket, there’s been a lot of runs scored here, so it's going to be a good challenge.
“They’ve got some classy players at the top of their innings We have a lot of respect for their top order, they’re led by an experienced captain and they’ve got some dangerous hitters lower down the order. We’re looking forward to getting into it.”
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