The co-hosts New Zealand take on South Africa in the first mouth-watering semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2015 on March 24th at Auckland and the winner will go on to face either India or Australia in the finals on March 29th at MCG. Here is the preview of the match:

Pitch and Weather:

The surface at Auckland offers encouragement through pace and bounce – a facet both teams possess. Each side also has a quality spinner, too, should it grip.

The forecast is a little mixed, but the occasional shower seems to be the worst that could happen.

Time 06:30 IST

Road to Semi-Finals:

New Zealand (Pool A)

Matches

South Africa (Pool B)

Beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs

1st Match

Beat Zimbabwe by 62 runs

Beat Scotland by 3 wickets

2nd Match

Lost to India by 130 runs

Beat England by 8 wickets

3rd Match

Beat West Indies by 257 runs

Beat Australia by 1 wicket

4th Match

Beat Ireland by 201 runs

Beat Afghanistan by 6 wickets

5th Match

Lost to Pakistan by 29 runs

Beat Bangladesh by 3 wickets

6th Match

Beat UAE by 146 runs

Beat West Indies by 143 runs

Quarter-Final

Beat Sri Lanka by 9 wickets

Previous World Cup Encounters:

1992 World Cup, Auckland: New Zealand won by 7 wickets

1996 World Cup, Faisalabad: South Africa won by 5 wickets

1999 World Cup, Birmingham: South Africa won by 74 runs

2003 World Cup, Johannesburg: New Zealand won by 9 wickets

2007 World Cup, St. George’s: New Zealand won by 5 wickets

2011 World Cup, Dhaka: New Zealand won by 49 runs

 

Team Guide:

The Black Caps come into the semi-finals as huge favourites to progress to the finals at MCG on March 29th. Before this, they reached six World Cup semi-finals but lost all of them. Almost everyone of those semi-finals had felt like more than an achievement. Except 1992 World Cup, when Martin Crowe lead them with immense energy and passion, the end of their journey each time had seemed apt. But this time around, it has been a different ball game altogether. Right from the word go, they have looked calm enough to set and control the pace of their each clash. But coming into a knockout game as favourites and that too when you are a co-host, though, carries its own burden. So once again, a lot will rely on the following four things that have brought them to this stage:

1. Brendon McCullum’s aggressive captaincy

2. Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson’s patience and calculated aggression

3. Daniel Vettori’s superb show

4. The Magnificence of Trent Boult and Tim Southee

With what has transpired throughout the group stages and the quarter-finals because of these above four things(that speak for themselves), anything looks possible with this team now.

    For NZ, a lot will depend upon how Trent Boult bowls early on in the innings

 

Best Batsmen:

New Zealand

Team

South Africa

Martin Guptill

Batsman

AB de Villiers

7

Matches

7

7

Innings

6

498

Total Runs

417

83.00

Average

83.40

110.42

Strike-Rate

144.29

237*

Highest Score

162*

With the way South Africa knocked Sri Lanka out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals, it would be fair to say that they have started to believe that they won’t choke this time around. After the win against Sri Lanka, seamer Kyle Abbott said that the skipper’s (AB de Villiers) passion and energy is contagious and guys are biting on to that. Although, they did lose while chasing against India and Pakistan in their Pool matches, but with the amount of cricket that is left in this mega event now, South Africa need just two good days to lift their first ever World Cup title. Their team is pretty much balanced and each player is clear about his role. Opener Quinton de Kock has also struck form at the right time and it should be right to say that New Zealand bowlers would have to do a great deal of hard-work to get the better off their strong batting line-up.

Surely, it’ll come down to who advances in the crunch situations of this high pressure game. But South Africa should go in with the mentality that it’s just another game for them but it’ll be about pulling in their emotions and doing the job, which can actually help them in shedding off their chokers’ tag.

                Will AB de Villiers fire when it matters the most?

 

Best Bowler:

New Zealand

Team

South Africa

Trent Boult

Bowler

Imran Tahir

7

Matches

7

7

Innings

7

278

Runs Given

283

19

Wickets

15

14.63

Average

18.86

4.21

Economy

4.20

5/27

Best Bowling

5/45

 

Team News:

New Zealand have suffered a huge blow as their lanky seamer Adam Milne has been ruled out of this all important clash because of a heel injury. Matt Henry has been called as his replacement and it looks likely he’ll be drafted directly into the playing eleven.

As far as South Africa are concerned, there are no injury issues and the eleven that featured against Sri Lanka is likely to play again.

Playing XI

South Africa:

Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, David Miller, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir

New Zealand:

Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Trent Boult

 

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