The big one. Maybe. What was supposed to be the battle for the fourth and final spot in the semi-finals is instead the last chance for South Africa against one of the two undefeated teams in New Zealand. It’d take an awful lot for South Africa to win here, after they struggled along to their first win of the tournament against fellow cellar dwellers Afghanistan. The good thing for South Africa is that New Zealand lost to West Indies in the warm-up and West Indies in turn were losing badly to South Africa before rain hit. But that was the warm-ups, and it might not mean an awful lot. In terms of the ODI rankings, pre-tournament South Africa were just ahead of New Zealand, but New Zealand are now, mid-tournament, just ahead of South Africa. This might be a lot closer than a lot of people think.
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Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) Kane Williamson will continue to shine
He’s in some incredibly good form, and it doesn’t look like ending here. While South Africa has a pretty awesome pace attack going, Kane is the kind of guy who can push through it.
(2) South Africa’s bowlers will thrive
While the blows of Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi hurt, their replacements are more than handy and, now that they are allowed to play them, they have a very balanced attack and a good line-up, and we saw against Afghanistan just how potent they are. It’s not just pace either, as Imran Tahir is more than a handful with his spin. New Zealand may find themselves struggling against them.
(3) Ross Taylor is key
While we can just about rubber stamp success for Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor is less certain. When he succeeds, New Zealand do a lot better than when he fails. It could well be that Taylor’s success or failure determines who wins.
(4) This one will go down to the wire
While New Zealand have the advantage of winning against Bangladesh, South Africa could level the scores with a win here. The last chance nature of this match should push South Africa to play better than they have done, and it might just be enough to get over the line. Maybe. Certainly they have more to play for here, as New Zealand can afford a loss. But that doesn’t mean that New Zealand want a loss, as a loss here could end up costing them a semi-final spot. Don’t expect this one to be a blowout, but it still might be if one team gets ahead. If South Africa lose, there’s no point for them worrying about net run rate as they are out of the tournament. If New Zealand win, they might start going for a net run rate boost, just in case. A New Zealand victory here will just about guarantee them a semi-final spot. For South Africa, a win will give them a chance.
(5) South Africa will win
I’ve picked them in every match and only got one right out of five (though one was a washout) so I may as well keep picking them. It’s a better story if they win anyway. Unless you’re supporting New Zealand, of course. If NZ wins, they are just about into the semis. If RSA lose, they are definitely out of the tournament. South Africa have the bigger motivation and it’s a better story, but it’s far from guaranteed.