Proteas Under Pressure
It is a huge week at the Cricket World Cup for South Africa, who face New Zealand and Pakistan with over half their matches played and only three points to their name, South Africa can’t afford any slip-ups. Their first assignment of the week comes against New Zealand tomorrow the first sold out match of the ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup, a repeat of the thrilling semi-final from the last World Cup that saw New Zealand win that clash. If the Proteas can hand Kiwis their first defeat of the tournament, they will go into Sunday’s clash against an erratic Pakistan with renewed hope of securing a top-four finish.
South Africa may have to win all of their remaining group-stage matches to earn a place in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals and Faf du Plessis’ side faces two tricky challenges this week. The Proteas lost their first three games at this tournament, one point was obtained via a washout against West Indies after which they picked up their first win thanks to a comfortable triumph over Afghanistan this past weekend. The challenge awaiting the Proteas over the coming seven days is certainly not an easy one as they take on an unbeaten New Zealand and Pakistan, with the latter desperately requiring a win following Sunday’s resounding defeat to fierce rivals India. The Proteas will be hoping to make it back-to-back wins today in the Cricket World Cup after thrashing Afghanistan.
South Africa are already at a disadvantage going into Wednesday’ game without Lungi Ngidi who is injured. Looking ahead to New Zealand, skipper Faf du Plessis is hopeful that he will be able to call on Lungi Ngidi. The 23-year-old speedster has not played since South Africa’s second match of the tournament against Bangladesh at The Oval on June 2, when he left the field after bowling just four overs with a hamstring strain. He was not picked against Afghanistan with a longer vision in mind, but speaking after Saturday’s match Du Plessis could not say with 100% certainty that Ngidi would be fully fit for New Zealand.
Australia, England and India already secured a place in the knockout stages, while the rest of the teams are fighting for the last spot. The Proteas have to impress by winning all of their remaining games and the pressure to win every game will be immense for a side that does not have a history of doing well in must-win fixtures.
Wednesday 19 June: New Zealand v South Africa (Edgbaston) – 10:30
Sunday 23 June: Pakistan v South Africa (Lord’s) – 10:30