The Kiwis have demolished every side which has been up against them. Their bowlers have made a mockery out of the opposing batsmen. So has their batting! The aggression displayed by the Blackcaps has been galvanizing to say the least. This has been the courtesy of their inspirational skipper, Brendon McCullum. With just two (potential) games away from glory, McCullum would want to ensure that New Zealand remain positive and reach their destination in style. But to do so, they need to beat South Africa in the first semi final at Auckland.
We look at the five key aspects, which the Kiwis must take care of, if they are to book their tickets to Melbourne.
1. Remain Aggressive:
Aggression has reaped sweet fruits for the men in black. They have been aggressive right throughout the campaign. It will be essential for them to continue to be positive. A sudden flutter at this stage could mean an eventual knockout punch. To start with, their seamers have been sensational. Boult and Southee have reminded us of the good old days, when bowlers too were competitive. The field setting employed by McCullum has been scintillating as well. On numerous occasions, we have seen McCullum deploying 3 slips and a gully. As a result, even half nicks, are caught. Against South Africa, if the Kiwis play in the same vain, then they may well be on their way to the MCG.
2. Get Amla quickly:
Just figure this piece of stat out – In games which the Proteas lose, Amla averages a shoddy 30.85, as opposed to his career average of 55.7. The stat paints a clear portrait itself! Amla’s wicket first up, will massively boost the Kiwis. On the other hand, in games which South Africa win, Amla averages a staggering 71.1. The message is clear: Get Amla within the first few overs and win the game! If Amla is allowed to settle, then he will make the Kiwi bowlers pay big time. He can rotate the strike with ease, and can spank the spinners to all parts.
3. Not allow Duminy to settle:
JP Duminy has been an efficient asset for the Proteas. He is more often than not the fifth bowling option and has been great for his side. Duminy averages 31.8 with the ball in this World Cup, and strikes within every 6 overs, at an economy rate of just 5.30. What more does a captain want from his fifth bowler? To make matters interesting, Duminy also has a hat-trick in the quarter final. Steyn and Morkel are seldom expensive, so it becomes vital to attack Duminy from the start. The Kiwis must take note of this, and should target Duminy’s ten overs. With the short Eden Park boundaries in fray, the ten overs from Duminy could be highly productive for the Black Caps.
4. Fielding must continue to remain as New Zealand’s “sixth bowler”:
The New Zealand fielding often doubles up as the sixth bowling option. The Kiwi fielders end up saving 30-40 runs in every game. This has a direct impact upon the frustration endured by the opposing batsmen. The batsmen then have to take a lot more risks, which rarely are successful against the Kiwi bowlers. The sight of Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill diving across has been a common one so far. Every individual in the Kiwi side is an excellent fielder, and they end up saving a lot of runs, which makes the eventual difference. In the semi final, the Kiwis would be itching to replicate their brilliance in the field.
5. Middle order must play around Williamson:
The calm and shy Kane Williamson has been a guiding force for the New Zealand batsmen. He calmly pierces through the gaps and very rarely does he find the fielders. Williamson is a beam of solidity in the Kiwi side. He has the ability to bat throughout the course of an innings. In the death overs, he can accelerate at a startling rate as well. The New Zealand batsmen must play around Kane, if they are to post a large total. Williamson can rotate the strike well, and keep milking the ones and two’s. Against the Proteas, Williamson would be expected to do the same thing, and keep the scoreboard ticking. But, if he doesn’t find the support of the other batsmen, then he might fail to do so. This could possibly lead to an underwhelming batting display from New Zealand.
If the New Zealanders are to make it to their first ever World Cup final, then they must ensure that all the five boxes are ticked.