New Zealand v South Africa, World Cup 2015, 1st semi-final, Auckland March 23, 2015

Who will be the World Cup's newest first-time finalist?

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Match facts

March 24, 2015
Start time 2pm local (0100GMT)

There has been no team as spectacular as New Zealand in this tournament © Getty Images

Big Picture

Nine World Cup semi-finals, zero World Cup finals. New Zealand and South Africa are no strangers to the last four, but neither has ever experienced the ultimate shoot-out. That will change for one of the teams as Melbourne beckons for the winner.

Six months ago if you had asked for a prediction of this fixture it is likely that South Africa would have been favoured. Now the hosts can rightly be considered the smart money. At the very least, it is the too-close-to-call match-up that the contests should be at this stage of the tournament. The four best teams are in the semi-finals.

New Zealand are on the most glorious of runs: nine ODI wins and counting. Each match of this tournament has thrown up new heroes: Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Kane Williamson, Daniel Vettori and, latterly, Martin Guptill can be known as the Super Six, while they have had more than a little help from their team-mates.

South Africa's tournament has not been anywhere near as seamless with the notable group-stage defeats against India and Pakistan, the latter of those at Eden Park. However, their overwhelming performance in the quarter-final against Sri Lanka - their first World Cup knockout victory - has ensured that, at least for a short while, AB de Villiers can experience something his predecessors have not. Winning a crunch game.

But now comes another one. The teams met in the knockout stages four years ago - the quarter-final - where New Zealand won by 49 runs in Dhaka and the contest boiled over when de Villiers was run out. The feats in Sydney will not mean a jot if they cannot progress further.

The build-up to this match has been starkly different for each side. South Africa's quarter-final was the first to be played which has given them time to settle back into Auckland, so much so that they opted not to train on Monday - they did the same the day before the Sri Lanka match. New Zealand have played, travelled, prepared and must now play again. It is far removed from the week-long build-ups that have almost become agonising during the second half of their group campaign.

As well as being the last match for either side at the tournament, this will also be New Zealand's last match as a host nation. The country has staged a wonderful event. They deserve a memorable encounter with which to sign-off.

Form guide

New Zealand WWWWW (last five matches, most recent first)
South Africa WWLWW

In the spotlight

Move aside Brendon McCullum and Trent Boult. There is a new hero in town. Martin Guptill rewrote the record books in Wellington, but now he must refocus having had barely any time to come down from the high of his unbeaten 237. That could be both a positive and a negative; he will never have felt better, but the expectations are now huge. He also has an awful record against South Africa: an average of 11.50 in 11 ODIs, including two ducks and seven single-figure scores.

The fifth bowler has long vexed South Africa, but they appear to have bitten the bullet and played to their strengths with seven batsmen and four frontline bowlers. That means the role of JP Duminy is crucial and he performed it to perfection - or, in fact, probably better than de Villiers could have dreamt of - against Sri Lanka by firstly restricting the scoring then bagging one of more unnoticed hat-tricks. However, against a New Zealand batting line-up that does not hold back, he should be tested. And so should South Africa's tactics.

Teams news

Adam Milne's heel injury, which has ruled him out of the tournament, means an enforced change for New Zealand. It would be quite a turnaround if Matt Henry was rushed straight in, but it is a possibility after Mitchell McClenaghan's poor outing against Bangladesh and the fact that Kyle Mills is not a like-for-like replacement.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum (capt), 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Grant Elliott, 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Matt Henry/Kyle Mills, 11 Trent Boult

South Africa's one decision seemingly rests on Vernon Philander v Kyle Abbott. Abbott helped set the tone against Sri Lanka but Philander's extra batting is also valued. De Villiers has a minor throat infection and didn't train on Sunday, but said the entire squad is fit and available.

South Africa (probable) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 Rilee Rossouw, 6 David Miller, 7 JP Duminy, 8 Dale Steyn, 9 Vernon Philander/Kyle Abbott, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

Pitch and conditions

"Players can get sucked in by the short boundaries and scores have tended to be lower," Grant Elliott said of Eden Park, earlier this week. The surface is rarely anything but true, but offers encouragement through pace and bounce - a facet both teams possess. McCullum expected less swing than the Australia match as conditions are not as humid. Each side also has a quality spinner, too, should it grip.

The forecast is a little mixed, but the occasional shower seems to the worst that could happen.

Stats and trivia

  • Trent Boult needs two wickets to become New Zealand's leading bowler at a World Cup, overtaking Geoff Allott's 21 victims in 1999
  • Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers have 40 ODI hundreds between them. The likely New Zealand XI has 34
  • Corey Anderson needs three wickets for 50 in ODIs. He currently has the fourth-best strike-rate of a bowler with more than 40 ODI wickets
  • New Zealand's run rate in the mandatory Powerplay overs of 7.54 is easily the best among all teams in this tournament. Australia are next with a rate of 6.16. South Africa are fifth with a run rate of 4.95

Quotes

"Any game you play, some get more nervous than others but the general feeling is that we can't wait to get out there and test our skills against a very good South African team and in a crunch game. The way we dealt with the expectations of the last game should hold is us in reasonable stead."
Brendon McCullum isn't worried if some players are nervous

"It would be silly to focus too much on the cricket they've played. They've played really well but if we play to our full potential, no one is going to stop us. I need to make sure they are confident mentally and fresh physically."
AB de Villiers keeps his focus on his own team rather than New Zealand

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2015, 15:04 GMT

    I believe Kiwi's going to be the winner of 2015 world cup for sure, their chance is high & most Important their consistency in the whole tournament is being terrific i ve enjoyed their Batting specially Of Brendon Mccullum ,his batting can disturb the length of any bowler & we seen that in some of the previous matches in the world cup that his bat smashes the bowlers very hard.Moreover important is their team effort which is appreciating .they are not dependent on individual player which is their most strongest point to be considered. Best wishes for Kiwi's

  • MANIMARAN on March 25, 2015, 8:23 GMT

    Kiwis Won and meet India in Final to lose there...........................

  • Iqbal on March 25, 2015, 2:43 GMT

    Tommorrow's 2nd semi final Australia Vs India, I don't think non other than australia will win it is fact and they meet New zealander in Final at MCG on 29th march 2015, in which, I found the best team in all participating teams firm favorite will pick first ever mega event title which they deserved to be crowned.

    Wajid karachi , Pakistan

  • SHAHID on March 24, 2015, 17:23 GMT

    Kiwis won and will play final against Kangroos ))

  • GOVIND on March 24, 2015, 13:28 GMT

    Rain and Chokkers tag dog SA once more. Having posted a reasonably sound total one would have expected the proteas to defend it with the bowling it had at its command. But Brendon Mcullum and AB's inept captaincy let them down. AB showed a lack of cricketing acumen while Mc cullum was going hell for leather. He should have brought on Tahir starightaway and attacked. Tahir's introduction was mainly responsible for Mcluums departure. overall NZ deserved to win on the day. First SA was halted in its tracks by rain and thereafter a score inexcess of 350 which otherwise was a certainity got curtailed to under 300. there the match was lost. Pity but then all praise for the Kiwis and their exceptional captain. All the best for the finals which inall possibility should be against India.

  • Shahzad on March 24, 2015, 5:21 GMT

    The first 10 overs of New Zealand chase would be the key.

    I am backing South Africa.

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2015, 1:55 GMT

    Oh wow !!!! NZ is playing with he best three seamers in their most important match . Last over just shows why Henry should have been in the squad in the first place .With Vettori they have the most experienced limited overs spinner as well and corey anderson has also taken wickets !!!. Wow !!!!

  • Dan on March 24, 2015, 0:55 GMT

    Both very skillful sides however SA with prevail today.

  • Dummy on March 24, 2015, 0:35 GMT

    Love both the teams. Good luck to both. Atleast there wont be any sledging like the Australians.

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2015, 0:19 GMT

    South africa will win today game and will be champion.

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