Preview – New Zealand have a slight edge over South Africa in the battle of equals
New Zealand is one of those sides which always tend to surprise in the World Cup. They did so in the 1992 edition and were very good in the 1999 one as well. They were the runners-up of the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand and have shown time and again that they are not a team that can be taken lightly despite not having a single World Cup trophy.
In ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, New Zealand and South Africa have both played one game each thus far at the time of writing. While New Zealand registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win against Sri Lanka at Cardiff, South Africa were thumped by 104 runs by England at the Kennington Oval in the opening match of the tournament.
Hence, South Africa would have to be at their best when they face off against the Kiwis in their World Cup 2019 clash at Edgbaston. South Africa can take heart from the fact that they have beaten New Zealand thrice in their last 5 ODIs.
While both the teams are pretty evenly matches, New Zealand does appear to have all bases covered. In captain Kane Williamson, the experienced Ross Taylor, attacking opener Martin Guptill, along with Henry Nicholls and wicket-keeper Tom Latham, New Zealand has a varied and solid batting unit. All-rounder James Neesham provides them the X-Factor down the order with his ability to strike lusty blows.
New Zealand’s bowling is very good too and will revolve around the ever impressive Trent Boult and his seam bowling partner Tim Southee. Lockie Ferguson’s pace and movement has been very impressive, and he will be a handy third seamer in these conditions. Matt Henry is another option that can be fruitful on this pitch. Ish Sodhi, the wily off-spinner, can be used. But Mitchell Santner has more experience and thus could be preferred.
South Africa’s batting isn’t as impressive as it used to be. Hashim Amla has been struggling for form for a while now. Captain Faf du Plessis would have to do the bulk of the scoring along with Quinton de Kock, David Miller, and Jean-Paul Duminy.
South Africa’s real strength lies in its bowling. Kagiso Rabada is the best pace bowler in the world right now and can put holes in the New Zealand batting. If Dale Steyn is fit, then he too will breathe fire. Lungi Ngidi has emerged as a very solid third seamer and the leg-spin of Imran Tahir, who has been in great form, can be a real challenge for the Kiwis.
Pitch Conditions and New Zealand vs South Africa Prediction:
Like many other venues in England, Edgbaston to has turned into a high-scoring ground. The highest total scored here is 408 by England against New Zealand in 2015. However, the ball does seam around in the initial few overs, and the fast bowlers will derive some help off the wicket. Chasing too is not easy here as the ball tends to grip a bit in the second innings.
This should be a very entertaining and evenly-fought contest. But New Zealand’s current form and overall balance of the squad gives them an edge over South Africa in this fascinating encounter.