We are just three matches away from knowing the winner of the ICC World Cup 2015. This World Cup though, is bound to have a first time finalist. In the first Semi final at Auckland, co hosts New Zealand will lock horns with the intimidating Proteas. The two sides have been a part of nine World Cup semi-final encounters, but neither of them has won even a single game! That statement summarizes the misery of the two sides, when it comes to battling it out in the semi finals. In this article, we cover the five crucial aspects which the South Africans must take care of against New Zealand, if they are to make their World Cup final debut!
1. Not CHOKE:
The first thing which comes to our minds, when we hear the term “choke”, is that infamous runout of Alan Donald in the 1999 Semi Final against Australia. The Proteas have messed up several knockout encounters. In the 2011 World Cup quarter final against the Kiwis, they couldn’t chase a mere total of 222 on a flaccid Mirpur wicket, which had a blanket of dew! Such has been the misery of the South Africans, when it comes down to emerging victorious in a knockout game. The only way for South Africa to win this game, is to treat it like just another ODI. The more they think about it, the more they are bound to mess it up.
2. Pick the Best XI:
A side cannot win a World Cup semi final if it does not field its best 11. The men from Africa, must take notice of that. The selection of the players must be strictly done on the basis of current form, and not reputation. Thereby, it is imperative that the in – form Kyle Abbott is picked over the rusty Vernon Philander. The South African selectors are also known to have a soft corner for Farhaan Behardien. Farhaan, cannot even be categorized as a “bits and pieces” player. Picking Behardien will be a blunder, as the short Auckland boundaries will mean that the Kiwi batters will have a blast against his slow medium pace seam-ups.
3. Middle order must support de Villiers:
The Africans lost to India and Pakistan in the first stage of the tournament. In both the games, the middle order failed to support AB. Even though ABD got out quickly against India, it was because of the poor start which was made. Against Pakistan though, De Villiers was the lone individual to show some fire. Even in the 2011 quarter final against New Zealand, the middle order collapsed like a pack of cards, and De Villiers did not find concrete support. ABD alone is a powerhouse, but for that, the other batsmen will have to provide some spark as well!
4. Dismiss New Zealand openers quickly:
A significant reason behind the victory of South Africa over Sri Lanka was that they dismissed the in – form Dilshan quickly. If Steyn and co. fails to dismiss McCullum or Guptill quickly, then they are in for some serious bashing. Both the openers can decimate bowling attacks with ease, and they have done exactly that in the ongoing World Cup. Guptill is just fresh from a sparkling double hundred, and would want to back it up with another memorable outing. McCullum on the other hand would be itching to display his brand of aggression. Nonetheless, it will be a mouth watering contest between Dale Steyn and the Kiwi openers.
5. Attack the fifth Bowler:
The fifth bowler is often the weak link of the team. New Zealand’s fifth bowler, in all probability will be the muscular Corey Anderson. With short square and long on boundaries, Corey’s ten overs can be a huge incentive for the South Africans. Anderson is not the quickest in the business. Nor is he even highly intimidating. As a consequence, it will be vital for the Proteas to attack Anderson. Attacking Anderson will mean that the planning of the New Zealanders will go haywire and for a toss. If Anderson is initially attacked, his overs would be bowled by the combo of Grant Elliot and Kane Williamson. Elliot looks completely rusty with the ball, and Williamson’s slow off spin will be a bonus for the South Africans.
The Proteas must consider the significance of the above five factors to a great extent. Against the ruthless Kiwi side, it would be absolutely fair to assume that the Proteas are by no means the favourites. It would be a tremendous achievement for them, if they overcome the New Zealanders, and book a ticket for Melbourne. As a whole it will be a delight for every cricket lover to watch the two sides battle it out at Eden Park.