South Africa have to give it their all in virtual quarter-final against New Zealand
South Africa have already lost three out of their five matches and one more loss will push them on the brink of getting knocked out of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. They will now have to play their remaining four group stage matches as quarter-finals, the first of which is against New Zealand at Edgbaston.
It was the 2015 World Cup semi final when both teams clashed the last time in the World Cup. One would remember as Dale Steyn ran into bowl to Grant Elliott. The next visual that you saw was the South African players on the ground with tears in their eyes. You could see what winning a World Cup meant to them.
The way Grant Elliott, who originally hails from South Africa, extended his hand towards Dale Steyn to help him get up remains one of the most picturesque moments in World Cup history. Four years later, the Proteas are against familiar rivals in a crucial World Cup match. Their dream is again close to getting shattered once again as they stand on the brink of a World Cup knockout.
Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock termed the game a quarter final in the pre-match press conference. "It's a big game for us, but in saying that, our next three or four games that we have. They're all going to be big games for us for the rest of the tournament. We're just going to have to go out there, keep our heads steady and play freely. Tomorrow is a quarter-final, I guess you could say. But if we do win it, it's another big game again,"De Kock said in a press conference on Tuesday.
A familiar rivalry
South Africa have had the upper hand over New Zealand in bilateral series. Since that semi-final clash at the Eden Park, South Africa have won five out of the eight ODIs played against New Zealand, while the Kiwis have won three.
The table turns in World events, where South Africa have lost every match against New Zealand since the 2003 World Cup. However, the last World Cup game that they won against the Kiwis was in the 1999 edition which was surprisingly played at this very venue at Edgbaston.
South Africa have had a tough World Cup schedule, given that they played the inaugural match of the tournament against England and suffered a heavy 104-run loss. The team never recovered from that defeat as they went on to lose against Bangladesh by 21 runs, followed by a six-wicket defeat against India. Their next match against West Indies was washed out. However, the team bounced back strongly and registered a nine-wicket comprehensive win against Afghanistan and would be high on confidence coming into this match against the Black Caps.
Marred by injuries
The team has been pulled back by injuries to their frontline pacers. While Lungi Ngidi was ruled out from a couple of matches after suffering an injury, Dale Steyn could not play a single match which came as a big shock to them. Since losing a couple of their frontline pacers to Kolpak, they are very thin on quick bowling resources.
Had Chris Morris not come to the fore, they would have suffered even bigger problems, but thankfully the lanky all-rounder clicked from the get go. Still, with the likes of Dwayne Pretorius and Beruan Hendricks, it becomes a lot easier for the opposition batters once they see off new ball bowlers.
Leg spinner Imran Tahir has been a shining light for the team amid the chaos and picked up four wickets in the last match against Afghanistan. Now that Ngidi is expected to be back, he will take the place of Beruan Hendricks and the Protea bowling now looks a lot more well-rounded.
Onus on the batting order
Du Plessis & Co have entrusted their faith in Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram but both did not have the greatest of form coming into the World Cup. Markram has played a couple of good knocks, while Hashim Amla scored 40 odd in the last match and the team would be hopeful for the two along with Quinton de Kock to get them off to a good start.
If South Africa succeed in batting first and pile-up a score upwards of 300 on the board, it would be very tough for New Zealand to chase it in conditions that will assist seam and swing.
© Cricket World