Southampton: South Africa take on a strong and confident New Zealand at Edgbaston with the hope that a victory could offset the poor show by their team in this ICC World Cup. They won their last match against Afghanistan and are keen to make this win their second, though New Zealand have been brilliant from the start.
The positive news in Proteas’ camp is their strike bowler Lungi Ngidi, who limped off with a hamstring injury during the Bangladesh tie on June 2 and then subsequently went on to miss three matches, has recovered and will be seen in action.
New Zealand could not test their strength against India due to rain in their last match at Nottingham. Leading pacer Trent Boult, who addressed the pre-match press conference, feels that South Africa may come back hard as they haven’t got a good start.
Showing respect for all South African batsmen, Boult said: “They’ve got some classy players at the top of the innings who haven’t had an interesting start to their tournament, so they’ll be hungry to come out and perform. I have a lot of respect for their top order led by an experienced captain as well. They also have some dangerous hitters lower down in the order. So, for sure we need to be on the mark right from the start. My role will be to hopefully get some early wickets.”
South Africa is aware that the contest will not be an easy one for them. Wicketkeeper and opener Quinton De Kock, who spoke on behalf of his team, said: “Playing against New Zealand is going to be a tough contest, but I’m sure it will be a good game.”
When asked whether New Zealand could be overconfident, De Kock said: “I know many of them pretty well. They’re pretty mild people and very athletic. They’re always competitive to whoever they play against. So I don’t see them as being complacent no matter who they play against. I’m sure they’re going to come out firing tomorrow and with a lot of confidence.”
New Zealand was responsible for knocking them out of the World Cup twice and once again, it may happen if South Africa do not win this match. Reminded of that, Boult said: “There have always been exciting games between New Zealand and South Africa in the past World Cups. The last time we played in 2015 at the semi-final at Eaton Park was one of the greatest games that the Kiwis have played. It obviously got a lot of attention back home and it was a cool one to be a part of. We’re looking forward to facing them tomorrow and I’m sure they are eager and hungry as well to put in a good performance because it’s a big one for them too.”
There is a forecast of light showers only, hence it is unlikely to be a washout. The team that wins the toss may bat first as three of the last four completed games at Edgbaston were won by the team batting first.
South Africa said that they won’t play with the fear of losing and are also not scared of their pacers. De Kock said: “We’ve played against their opening bowlers on numerous occasions so we know what we’re going to get. So the emphasis is on the whole game, not just about bat and ball upfront. It’s about being well prepared and dominating in the middle, and obviously a good finish with bat and ball.”
Catch the match
New Zealand vs South Africa
Edgbaston, Birmingham (1.30pm UAE start)
Live telecast on OSN Cricket