Big picture – Not necessarily a win, but a win for momentum
It started with a World Cup quarter-final that turned out to be a proper scrap in Mirpur in 2011. It marked the arrival of a cricket rivalry that is not much talked about, but always gives us games that not good at heart – like the rugby World Cup final from a few nights ago.
Auckland 2015 and Birmingham 2019, the two most recent men’s ODI World Cup fixtures since the rivalry began life, were both thrillers of different kinds. One is a semi-final with everything on the line, and the other is a league fixture, like Wednesday. This will dictate how the top half of the points table shapes up heading into the final part of the league stage.
All told, for three consecutive men’s World Cups, New Zealand’s games were must-wins for South Africa; in fact, South Africa lost five consecutive World Cup matches to New Zealand. In Pune on Wednesday, the stakes are not as high, as both teams are still comfortably placed for the semi-finals, but this is one that both sides will want to win for momentum at least.
New Zealand endured back-to-back defeats to India and Australia as their smooth sailing of a campaign – they started with four wins on the trot – hit a rough patch amid a growing list of niggles. South Africa have gone gung-ho, proving that their only loss – to the Netherlands – was an aberration, their batting depth looking more intimidating and effective enough in the bowling, as they had hoped.
Their one-wicket win over Pakistan in Chennai last night saved them from the dreaded word that had started doing the rounds even as their lower order crumbled, before Keshav Maharaj and Tabraz Shamsi saw them through. at home. A favorable result in Pune will further cement their status as one of the dominant teams in this World Cup. However, that they are not good chasers, is a suggestion they have not been able to dispel.
Results and everything aside, the game promises an explosive cocktail of firepower with the bat, and excitement with the ball. There were aesthetics in the form of Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra and Rassie van der Dussen, big-hitting from Henrich Klaasen, David Miller and Glenn Phillips, and the genius of Quinton de Kock to boot.
With the ball, there is pace royalty in the form of Kagiso Rabada, Trent Boult’s swing, Gerald Coetzee’s hustle, and Marco Jansen’s bounce – each of them brings a unique flavor that makes fast bowling exciting. . When they all play together, it’s truly a spectacle.
Now for a good pitch and good time to put it all together.
New Zealand LLWWW (Last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
South Africa WWWLW
In the spotlight – Temba Bavuma and Rachin Ravindra
In a top order that is usually in top gear, Temba They agreed seems to be kind of a weak link at the moment for South Africa. He has started three of his four innings, but has not cracked the top 35. As such, Bavuma is an accumulator, but has seemed anxious at various times to break out of that mold. It hasn’t worked yet. While there is no threat to his captaincy, he wants a big score to feel more comfortable.
Is he? Isn’t he? Kane Williamson has walked around with more questions about his fitness and participation this campaign than at any point in his career. It’s unclear if he’s still fit, but in his absence, Rachin Ravindra made the No. 3 seats of his own. Williamson’s presence as part of the leadership team provides plenty of calm and tactical nous, but he wants to bounce back and make an impact. As for Ravindra, he has done a lot.
Kagiso Rabada missed the last match due to a niggle, but is understood to be fit and expected to return to the XI. That means South Africa will be left with a tough call on who to leave out. Gerald Coetzee and Tabraiz Shamsi both played key roles in their win over Pakistan in Chennai, but one of them might have to perform, depending on the pitch.
South Africa (possible): 1 Temba Bavuma (capt), 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Heinrich Klaasen, 6 David Miller, 7 Marco Jansen, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Gerald Coetzee/Tabraiz Shamsi, 11 Lungi Ngidi
New Zealand has an injury list that is slowly growing. Lockie Ferguson bowled all three overs before walking off with a heel injury against Australia. Mark Chapman is recovering from a minor calf strain. Tim Southee is recovering from a broken finger, but he is ready to return. Then Williamson, of course. New Zealand’s training on the eve of the match, and Tom Latham’s press conference, delivered very little.
New Zealand (possible): 1 Will Young, 2 Devon Conway, 3 Rachin Ravindra, 4 Tom Latham (capt, wk), 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Jimmy Neesham, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Tim Southee/Lockie Ferguson
Pitch and condition
Pune is unusually hot and dry for this time of year, but the surfaces are good for batting, with even bounce and excellent carry. In both games so far, the dew hasn’t had much of an effect, but it should be wet. The toss will be less of a factor if the dew stays.
Stats and trivia
Conway has been dismissed twice in six games with left-arm spin in this World Cup. South Africa have Maharaj in the mix. In total, Conway hit 17 runs off 21 balls from bowlers of this type. It’s a small sample size but worth watching nonetheless, especially since he likes the sweep shot, and Pune has bigger squares.
Ravindra’s tally of 406 runs is the most by a New Zealander in his first World Cup. The standout aspect was his game against spin – he scored 210 against them at a strike rate of 109. His eight sixes were the most against spinners in the tournament so far.
South Africa’s seven 300-plus totals in a row batting first in ODIs – including four in this World Cup – is the longest streak in the game. They hit the most sixes and fours, and had the most hundreds (six) in the tournament.
South Africa’s pace pack has taken 44 wickets at an average and a strike rate of 23.3 and 23.5, respectively. Their wicket tally and their bowling strike rate are the best for a team in this World Cup.
“We’ve got some guys to go through some fitness tests, and I think once we train, we’ll have a clearer idea of what the current XI will look like in training and preparation come tomorrow.”
Injuries became a major concern Tom Latham
“It feels like that question could have been asked a few days ago – about Pakistan. So no, there’s no chat about that. I mean, that’s all in the past. us.”
Rassie van der Dussen not thinking about South Africa’s five-match ODI World Cup loss to New Zealand