Kiwis vs Proteas; Who’ll choke?

Monday, Mar 23, 2015,19:16 IST By metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Potentially the two best teams in the ICC Cricket World Cup will meet in the first semifinal of the mega sports spectacle in Auckland tomorrow with a hope to end years of pain and near-misses.
Both the teams are chasing history as neither hosts New Zealand nor South Africa have ever reached the World Cup  final.    The Kiwis have lost all six of their previous World Cup semifinals, with Proteas falling at the same hurdle on three  occasions.    Last time the two teams met in ODI cricket, South Africa won a three game series by 2-0 with the third game being washed out.
But the way, the Black caps have dominated in 2015 WC Pool A, winning all their matches comfortably and then thrashing West Indies in quarterfinal, it will be an interesting to see who get choked in the first semifinal.
The Brendon McCullum-led side are coming off a dominant victory over the Windies in their knockout match on the back of Martin Guptill’s incredible 237 not-out.
They have confidence all through their line-up as alongside Guptill – who has the second most runs in the tournament with 498 – skipper Brendon McCullum has also been dominant with the bat.
Their bowlers also possess some real firepower, in particular Trent Boult, who has had a career-defining tournament to date as he leads the way in wickets taken (19) and maidens bowled (14) across the whole World Cup so far.
South Africa have had less individual standout performances than the Black Caps, however, they possess experience and polish across the board.
Until their last-start thumping of Sri Lanka they had amazingly never won a Cricket World Cup knockout match, but that fact should provide further motivation to this Proteas team to make up for the losses and get a win here.
They lost just one wicket chasing down the Sri Lankan total in their last match in what former captain Graeme Smith described as their most convincing World Cup performance so far.    Limited overs superstar AB de Villiers is their x-factor with the bat and is their leading run scorer so far with 417 in the tournament.
Spinner Imran Tahir leads their bowlers with 15 wickets in the tournament thus far.    South Africa are slight favourites with the bookies despite never before making a tournament decider since their entry into the World Cup in 1992.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (C), Trent Boult, Grant Elliot, Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Daniel Vettori, Kane Wellianson, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Luke Ronchi (W), Ross Taylor    South Africa: AB De Villiers (C), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abott, Farhaan Behardien (W), Quinton De Kock, JP Duminy, Francois Du Plesssis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn.