Both teams are playing with confidence and one look at the talent on show on either side means it has the potential to be a classic.
Everywhere you look there are potential head-to-heads that set any cricket fan’s pulse racing – from Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill versus Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers against Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Or how about David Miller and JP Duminy battling with Daniel Vettori, or New Zealand’s middle order against Imran Tahir?
But two areas I think the Black Caps have the advantage are in the spin department and also the fifth bowler conundrum.
With no disrespect to Imran Tahir, who has taken wickets for South Africa during this tournament, and JP Duminy, whose hat-trick against Sri Lanka in the quarter-final was a real surprise, New Zealand really do have a trump card when it comes to slow bowling thanks to the presence of Vettori.
That was never better illustrated than by the job he did in the match against Australia at the venue for this latest match-up – Eden Park.
No-one expected spin to be a factor, least of all on a ground with tiny straight boundaries and on a pitch that did not offer any real purchase, but Vettori bowled superbly against Michael Clarke’s men.
And although Boult and Mitchell Starc took the bowling headlines that day in New Zealand’s one-wicket win, Vettori really helped turn the tide in favour of his side with a brilliantly controlled spell.
His quality could be key once more, especially as there appears little or nothing to choose between the two line-ups of fast bowlers with Steyn and Morkel up against Boult and Southee. What a match-up that is.
The issue of the fifth bowler is a potential Achilles heel for South Africa and I, for one, will be fascinated to see how New Zealand go about trying to exploit it.
In the quarter-final Duminy was able to operate with no pressure because Sri Lanka felt unable to attack him after losing early wickets, but if New Zealand have wickets in the bank when he, or even AB de Villiers, comes on to bowl then the tables might be well and truly turned.
There is a school of thought that says the Black Caps should play Steyn and Morkel if not with caution then with just a little more care than they have shown in their approach in other matches in the tournament, safe in the knowledge that they have that fifth bowler to attack later on.
But I just do not think that will be the way New Zealand will go about things. Brendon McCullum made that pretty clear in his post-match comments following the quarter-final against the West Indies. He said the side has had success going hard, the fans have loved that approach and with an unbeaten run so far in the tournament the mood music from the camp seems to be ‘if it isn’t broken then don’t try to fix it.’
The issue of what to do at the toss is one that may tax both captains and it is one that I am torn about too.
I said earlier in the tournament, especially after the New Zealand – Australia match, that Eden Park was a bowl-first venue as, with the small boundaries, even if you concede a huge score you are still very much in contention to chase it down.
That remains the case but, on the flip side, this is a winner-take-all match and chasing any sort of score to get through to a World Cup final for the first time can create its own pressure.
And you can add to the mix, too, the fact that South Africa’s two defeats in the tournament have both come chasing, against India and Pakistan, the latter at the venue for this match.
On balance, if I was McCullum I think I would look to bowl first and unleash Boult and Southee on South Africa in an attempt to put them under pressure. With those short boundaries, the side batting first can always fall into the trap of going too hard too early thinking it needs a mammoth score, something Australia was guilty of, and so bowling first can still be an advantage.
For both sides this match presents the possibility of reaching uncharted territory, as neither has been to a World Cup final before. That is another element to this fascinating encounter and from New Zealand’s perspective they have to be careful not to be too pumped up.
There will be an incredible atmosphere – we got a taste of it during that match against Australia – and with that will come the temptation to be overly aggressive as the adrenaline flows.
We saw that from McCullum against Australia. He had his foot on the opposition’s throat and rather than get his side over the line he went for one big shot too many, paid the price, and the side almost passed up the chance of that win. Aggression is fine, especially as it has served New Zealand so well in this tournament, but there must be an element of control with it.
Here we are at the back-end of the season and it seems like a lifetime ago that these two sides met at the start of the summer in a one-day series that South Africa won pretty comfortably. But a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and I am sure there will be no negative thoughts about those losses within the New Zealand camp now.
After all, they came at a time when the Black Caps were still feeling their way into the season after a winter break and, in any case, a win over South Africa, albeit in a warm-up match ahead of this tournament, will have shown the side that de Villiers’ men are human.
As the captain that led New Zealand to the semi-finals but no further in both 1999 and 2007, what advice would I give McCullum as he attempts to go one better? Just keep doing what you are doing is the simple answer.
The aggressive style of cricket the team is playing is a joy to watch and the way the side looks for wickets rather than containment remains the best way to go.
The first hour will be crucial in shaping the destiny of the match and if one side or the other can grab the initiative then it will be mighty hard for the other team to seize it back.
From my point of view, I hope the side that does the grabbing is New Zealand.
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