If South Africa win this semi-final I have no doubt they will go all the way and win the World Cup as well.
Having said that, it’s anyone’s game in Auckland. Both teams head into the match in fabulous form, with New Zealand unbeaten in getting though to this part of the competition, while South Africa have lost twice. But those defeats to India and Pakistan seem a long time ago, such is the manner in which the boys swept aside Sri Lanka in the quarter-final.
I have to back to the boys to beat New Zealand and then to beat Australia in the final on Sunday morning. I think Australia have got too much firepower for India when they square off on Wednesday.
The manner in which Australia got past Pakistan in the quarter-final was impressive, losing four wickets in their chase by getting home with 16-and-a-bit overs to spare. They will carry that momentum into their semi and I wouldn’t think India can beat them at this point of the competition in Australian conditions.
The first semi-final is less clear-cut, although South Africa will have memories of 2011 at the back of their minds, after they were knocked out of the competition by these same opponents.
Then, the Kiwis got stuck in to our boys, especially Faf du Plessis, and gave plenty of verbal. There will be plenty things said on the field this time as well – although the stumps microphones will probably be turned down between deliveries, so don’t expect to hear it all on TV. But don’t think there’s not going to be a bit of banter.
There are always things said in the field and I’d be surprised if our guys don’t have a bit to say – especially if they carry the hostility they showed against Sri Lanka into the game. Revenge for 2011 will make them dangerous.
One would think that whichever captain wins the toss will bat in Auckland. I have a hunch that AB de Villiers’ luck with the coin is going to change and that he’ll win the toss, both in the semi-final and the final. And he’ll have no hesitation in batting first.
The reality is that, with Eden Park being such a small ground, with the small boundaries especially square of the wicket, whoever bats first will be looking at posting a total of 300. And both teams are capable of chasing down 300 to win a match of this magnitude. Anything under 300 will be difficult to defend, so I’m going to say that 300 is the par score on this field. I’m not one to sit on the fence, but it really is a tough call between to very good sides. Ask me when the first innings is over and I’ll let you know, but my view will be based around that 300 total.
New Zealand have a lot of dangermen and one of them is the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, Trent Boult. He is well backed up by Tim Southee and they are good operating in a left-right bowling combination.
Boult might give Hashim Amla more problems than Quinton de Kock early on. The reason is that Boult’s deliveries will be angling across the right-hander and Hashim likes to play square of the wicket. He’ll be looking to pick up boundaries square, but if Boult can get a bit of unexpected bounce he will be looking to get the edge of Hashim’s bat.
Quinton had a good knock against Sri Lanka, and as I said in my lookahead to that game, any runs he got could be seen as a bonus because of the poor form he had been in up to then. Now though, he will be looking to impress yet again.
I’m really looking forward to this one and I’m sure the boys are as well. The bookies have South Africa as the marginal favourites to win and I’ll agree with them. I’m backing the boys to go all the way.
Gibbs played 90 Tests and 248 ODI matches for South Africa and scored more than 14,500 runs for his country. He also scored 175 in that ‘438 match’ against Australia at the Wanderers and hit six sixes in an over at the 2007 World Cup.