18 June 2019, by: Carl Lewis


South Africa have the chance to bury a bit of sorrow, grief and resentment when they face New Zealand in their must-win ICC Cricket World Cup pool match tomorrow at Edgbaston.

The Black Caps are the Proteas World Cup nemesis having knocked them out in both the 2011 and 2015 editions. Both losses were hard to swallow for the South African public and tomorrow is a chance for redemption. It’s also an opportunity to restore some pride and faith back into a struggling Proteas outfit.

Although the burden of pressure on the team is palpable. They can least point to a much-needed win over Afghanistan as a reference for success ahead of the do-or-die fixture.

It won’t be easy as their opponents are a battle-hardened unit and seem to thrive at ICC events, specifically when it comes to South Africa. New Zealand are currently unbeaten with 3 wins and 1 no result from their 4 matches.

What would have been their sternest against India was abandoned without a ball being bowled after rain. They have beaten Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan so South Africa will be their first opponents outside of Asia. South Africa are easily the best fast bowling attack the Black Caps have faced so far.

Pressure on the Batting Unit

What is clear at this World Cup is the importance of the top 3 scoring runs and batting time. This is something the Proteas have failed to do, dismally. Although Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock made a 100 run stand against Afghanistan.

The partnership must be put into perspective. It was against the weakest team in the competition and Amla (again) looked far from convincing.

Outside of the openers, it’s not only Amla struggling for form but the entire batting unit. The lack of groundwork upfront has left the already brittle order exposed. The batters will be tested by an excellent Black Caps attack including Trent Boult, Matt Henry and the pacy Lockie Ferguson.

The selectors will almost certainly go with the same top 6 used against Afghanistan. That means de Kock and Amla opening up with Aiden Markram coming in at three.

The middle order should consist of skipper Faf du Plessis at 4, followed by the impressive Rassie van der Dussen and then the power hitting of David Miller.

This is a huge test of character, not only for the batting unit but for batting coach Dale Benkenstein who has been under fire for an extended period.

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Proteas Bowling on track

The bowling department, as usual, has picked up the slack for the failing Proteas batsmen. Although they have been affected by injuries to Anrich Nortje, Dale Steyn and most recently Lungi Ngidi.

In their last match against Afghanistan, Imran Tahir produced another game-changing spell, picking up four wickets. The leggie remains crucial to any success South Africa could achieve at the World Cup.

Kagiso Rabada is bubbling under the surface and is due a defining performance in his first World Cup. Luck has not always gone his way but Rabada is still the most probing South African quick.

All-rounder Chris Morris is another bowler in good touch. He’s taken his opportunity and filled the fast bowling void whilst also lengthening the batting lineup.

A huge boost for Africa for South Africa is the fitness of Lungi Ngidi. The quick has been declared match fit after missing the last three games due to a hamstring injury. He should replace Beuran Hendricks in the XI and the hope is he will pick up early wickets with the new ball.

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Pitch and Conditions at Edgbaston

It will be a cloudy start to the day with a high of 17 degrees Celsius and chances of some light rain and a possible thunderstorm in Birmingham.

It seems the day will be cloudy throughout and quite nippy which will suit both pace attacks.

With regards to the toss, teams batting first have won three of the last four completed games at Edgbaston.

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