CWC 15: Blackcaps on the verge of history

The Blackcaps will take to the field tomorrow with an entire nation behind them as they fight, once again, to win a Cricket World Cup semi final.

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It was in Auckland back in 1992 that New Zealand batted first and set a modest total against Pakistan, only to see their effort come to nothing as the visitors chased the runs down to advance to Melbourne, and eventually win the tournament that year.

Semi finals are something of a sore spot for the Blackcaps from an historical perspective, and if the pressure becomes too much, history will repeat itself very quickly.

South Africa is a side full of dangerous players in every position.

Led at the top by two superb opening batsmen in the form of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla, the strength with the bat goes through arguably the world crickets toughest middle order with AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, and the explosive talent of David Miller as well.

Miller is a batsmen who if allowed to settle could smash 100 runs in a handful of over’s on a ground as tiny as Eden Park.

On the bowling front is one of the games best pace bowlers, Dale Steyn,

Steyn’s brilliance is backed up by spin bowler Imran Tahir, one of the leading wicket takers in the world cup so far.

It isn’t as if the Blackcaps haven’t performed well against teams with some seriously good cricketers either.

Australia, Sri Lanka, and England for that matter were no mugs and players like David Warner, Kumar Sangakarra, and Eoin Morgan don’t usually miss fire to often.

This Blackcaps unit hasn’t fluked their way to a semi final at this world cup – they have got there through some brilliant cricket especially with the ball.

The news of Adam Milne’s tournament-ending injury is a big blow for the Blackcaps in terms of a pace standpoint, a factor that could well have undone the likes of AB de Villiers early on.

Wether it is Mitchell McClenaghan or Matt Henry, the replacement for Milne goes into Eden Park with the ability to be just as potent with the white ball.

Runs will come easily at such a small ground with such powerful batsmen on both sides, but as the game against Australia proved for the Blackcaps, with strong bowling even the most powerful of batting line ups can be torn apart in good batting conditions.

How will Daniel Vettori go in what will likely be his last home game for his country?

Brendon McCullum as captain has been brilliant in the last month, but he needs to play an extremely mature role with the bat in this match, regardless of if the Blackcaps bat first or are chasing.

Martin Guptill averages 11 against South Africa, but traditionally performs well at Eden Park.

Based on form, Blackcaps should win and win well.

South Africa have been the talk of the tournament both prior to its beginning and during, but they have stumbled their way to the playoffs before easily taking care of Sri Lanka in the quarters.

But with such an explosive batting and bowling line up with amazing consistency, South Africa in the minds of many are still favourites in this semi final, despite the level of expectation that a packed Eden Park will give to the Blackcaps.

History is meant to be re written, and for both sides tomorrow is opportunity to do so.

But this is the time for the Blackcaps, it has to be now.

CWC 15: Emotion for the ages

Yesterdays Cricket World Cup bout between Australia and New Zealand was one for the ages.

Australia v New Zealand - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup

A packed out Eden Park was brought to its knees after the Blackcaps almost lost what looked to be an easy victory after Trent Boult ripped through Australia’s batting lineup with figures of 5/27.

Brad Haddin was the top scorer for Australia, ending on 43 as Australia collapsed to be all out for 151.

Wether it was poor batting from both sides or some remarkable bowling, Australia clawed themselves out from the clutches of defeat in an over from hell for the Blackcaps.

Mitchell Starc took two wickets in a row and left the Blackcaps needing a further six for victory with just a wicket to spare.

Starc was unable to break through Trent Boult in two attempts.

The next over, Kane Williamson smashed a six down the ground to win the most emotional match of the Cricket World Cup so far.

The biggest concern for both Australia and New Zealand will be how quickly they collapsed with the bat on such a perfect batting deck.

It was always going to be an historical match, but the  February 28th showdown between Australia and New Zealand at Eden Park will go down as one of the most intense, emotional and shocking matches in CWC history.

The latest update from NZ Cricket is that Brendon McCullum’s arm injury is in the all clear – a positive for Blackcaps fans.

Guptill shrugs off his own mind and bats well

If there was one story to come out of yesterdays rain-tarnished ODI in Auckland, it was Martin Guptill.

Martin-Guptil-Getty-Images

Many are calling Guptill’s unbeaten knock of 66 a return to his form of old, others say that Guptill has “rediscovered his mojo”.

What Guptill did at Eden Park yesterday was bat with aggression, but he also did it with calm and with well thought out decision making at every turn.

To say Guptill had a clear mind out there would be pushing the envelope though.

At various times throughout his innings Guptill was very fidgety, he could be seen shaking himself off even when at the non strikers end.

But when it came time to take guard and watch the bowler run in towards him, Guptill put whatever was on his mind to one side and played one of his best innings for the Blackcaps in nearly a year.

The fidgeting, the shaking off, the deep breathes after each delivery faced, it was all a factor in this knock for mind.

Early on in the innings Guptill was walking across his crease and put himself at deep risk of LBW many times, and he was lucky not to chop the ball back onto his stumps on a couple of occasions.

Guptill has long been slammed by many in the media for his lack of production early on in his innings.

Yesterday on his home ground, Guptill was slow off the line again. But once Guptill kept that head down and smashed the ball for six on the onside, it was a different story altogether.

Guptill was proactive and quick to make decisions especially with his running between the wickets.

Going forward the challenge for Guptill will be consistency. He must perform this well away from Eden Park. In recent seasons some of Guptill’s best batting in the black jersey has been at his home ground of Eden, that must change heading into the World Cup.

The strike rate is good, because with Brendon McCullum likely to play the aggressive role throughout the World Cup at the top of the order, Guptill is going to have time to play himself in and get a feel for conditions, providing McCullum stays with him at the crease however.

But after ten to twenty deliveries, Guptill is going to have to show some aggression no matter the situation because the likes of Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, and especially Ross Taylor are all slow starters who like Guptill, have to work into their innings early on.

Guptill should be proud of himself today though.

Perhaps his clear intent to fidget around after each ball and shrug himself off is the key to forging together decent scores in his opening role.