New Zealand in a World Cup (WC): it’s an image sure to remind Proteas fans of the recurring nightmares that followed their elimination from the 2015 and 2011 knockouts at the hands of the Blackcaps.
With that in mind, it seems only fitting that New Zealand could be the team to formally condemn South Africa to an early exit when the two teams meet at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
That is, of course, if the weather gods grant the teams mercy: not only have four of New Zealand’s last five visits to Edgbaston been washed out, but ten of the last 19 overall ODIs at the venue have been shortened and/or abandoned because of inclement weather. The forecast suggests the Birmingham faithful could be in for more pain.
New Zealand have now won 11 of their last 12 WC matches in addition to their last six ODIs, having bowled out their opposition in their last eight.
South Africa will be desperate to avoid a fifth consecutive WC defeat to New Zealand, not least because they remain to tread in ‘must win’ waters, with a minimum five wins required to advance to the knockout stage.
A century opening stand between Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla – their first in almost two full years – could just be the catalyst required to spark a dramatic turnaround in form.
The two sides have not met since early 2017, but with the Proteas winning the last three consecutive ODI series against New Zealand, they do at least have some confidence to draw upon. But with just four victories in their last 15 ODIs against fellow top-five nations, there is some way to go yet.
Probable Playing XI
Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.
Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (C), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Lungi Ngidi.
NZ vs SA – Players to watch out for
Martin Guptill (NZ) has been well short of spectacular so far, but with two centuries in five innings against South Africa since the last WC, this could be this breakthrough inning of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the evergreen Imran Tahir (SA) has been kept wicketless by New Zealand batsmen on just one occasion from eight since the last WC.
Since the beginning of the 2013 Champions Trophy, the average first innings score at Edgbaston is 262.
Just five of the last 16 completed ODIs at Edgbaston have been won by the team chasing.
New Zealand have taken out nine of their last 12 ODIs when also winning the toss.
New Zealand conceded the highest team total at Edgbaston: England’s 408/9 in 2015. Trent Boult (4/55) and Matt Henry (0/73) are the only two bowlers from that match expected to front up here.