Monday, March 23, 2015

New Zealand and South Africa to Clash for a Place in the 2015 World Cup Final

Semi Final 1: New Zealand vs South Africa at Eden Park, Auckland on 24th March 2015 – Match Preview

This is the battle between two teams that are itching to play in their first Finals of the ODI World Cup, ever! This will to be an epic between two sides that are the best fielding sides in this tournament, two teams which have lacked the killer instinct and the mental toughness to get past this stage. One of them will certainly go a step further and the other will be, once again, left to lick their wounds and think of what could have been and then endure a long wait of another 4 years to get a shot at redemption!

New Zealand have been bolstered by the return to form of Martin Guptill who scored a magnificent 237* in the Quarter Final against a hapless West Indies. Brendon McCullum made it amply clear at the end of the last match that he had the license to go for the kill from ball one. Kane Williamson has been the most consistent batsman for the Kiwis since the past 2 years but he has not yet made a mark in the World Cup yet, so I believe that he is due a big score soon.

Ross Taylor has not been at his fluent best but he has fought out manly in the middle. He made a fighting 50 against Bangladesh and was in the middle for around 60 balls against the Windies. Grant Elliot has made vital contributions down the order with the bat and Corey Anderson remains the single biggest threat in the slog overs. Luke Ronchi has not had much to do as the top order has done the job on most occasions but the Proteas will be vary of the destructive powers that the Kiwi wicketkeeper possesses.

The New Zealand Team seem to be enjoying every bit of their cricket right now! 
They play against the South Africans in teh first Semi Final at Auckland

The South African top order was also given a boost when the under performing Quinton De Kock made a rapid half century in the low chase against the Sri Lankans in the Quarter Finals at SCG. With Faf Du Plessis fit and in form coming in at number 3 and Hashim Amla also in decent form at the top, the top 3 of the South Africans form a formidable trio. If the bowlers get past them as Zimbabwe did, then you will encounter the superman AB De Villiers, currently in the fourth place of the highest run scorers of the World Cup but he has made runs at an astonishing strike rate of almost 150!

David Miller and JP Duminy are also lurking down the order ready to pounce on any opportunity and pose a viable threat to potentially undo any good work that the opposition bowlers may have done up until that point.

The Kiwi new bowling pair is probably the best in the world at the moment with Trent Boult doing as he pleases with the ball and Tim Southee also capable of making the ball talk and the batsmen dance to his tunes. The left-right hand combination is a deadly one and batsmen have found it almost impossible to cope with the offerings of this duo.

The old man Daniel Vettori has mesmerized batsmen with variations in his flight, subtle changes in his pace and the little hint of spin. He has choked the batsmen in the mid overs while also picking up wickets as the batsmen have felt suffocated and tried to hit out. Adam Milne will provide the extra speed as he is capable of touching the 150 kmph mark regularly and McCullum generally uses him in short bursts to ruffle the batsmen. Corey Anderson and Grant Elliot with complete the 5th bowlers quota and the South Africans can target these two as they are definitely easier to get runs off!

The Proteas also have a potent fast bowling concoction and the emergence of the young Kyle Abbot has provided great support to Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel who comes in as first change. Steyn got the fire back in the last match and Morne was disconcerting with his extra bounce. Kyle Abbot did not afford the luxury of width to the Lankans and will be useful against a rampaging MCCullum!

South Africa were always lacking when it came to spin but Imran Tahir has provided them with an attacking option in the middle overs. His variations have been hard to decipher and he has largely been disciplined and not bowled too short or the rank full tosses that he generally used to. The fifth bowler is something that the opposition teams look at but JP Duminy took a hat trick against the Sri Lankans although I do not think that the Eden Park pitch will be to his liking at all!

Key Battles - Semi Final 1: New Zealand vs South Africa

Trent Boult and Tim Southee vs Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis

Dale Steyn vs Brendon McCullum

Daniel Vettori vs AB De Villiers

Kane Williamson vs Imran Tahir

Corey Anderson vs David Miller

These two played a cracker of a match 4 years ago in Bangladesh during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. All that could go wrong for the South Africans went wrong for them. A young Faf ran out AB De Villiers and then got in to a slug fight with the New Zealanders. The Kiwi spinners had on that occasion strangulated the Protea chase and their fielders appeared to have wings! That match remains one of the best knockout match that I have witnessed in ODI World Cup history. I just hope that the Semi Final will provide us all with a match that will make us forget that match!! I am hoping for a high octane, adrenaline pumping match, a match laced with pressure and nerves and apprehensions. A match that is worthy of being called a Semi Final!! Game On!

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