South Africa are ready for the ‘unknown’ when they face New Zealand in the first World Cup semi-final in Auckland on Tuesday, says David Miller.
Since being allowed into cricket’s showpiece event in 1992, South Africa have failed to get past the semi-final stage on three occasions and are still awaiting a maiden World Cup final appearance.
New Zealand’s record is even worse, with the Black Caps having lost all six of their previous World Cup semi-finals.
Yet it is the Proteas who carry the unwanted tag of ‘chokers’, a label they went some way to removing with a thumping nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals – South Africa’s first victory in the knockout phase of any World Cup.
‘It’s something that’s the unknown,’ said Miller on Sunday of the prospect of playing either Australia or defending champions India, who meet in the second semi in Sydney on Thursday, in the March 29 final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
‘It’s a very exciting time. In eight days we could be world champions but it’s just one step at a time, take things slowly as they come,’ Miller added.
Tuesday’s semi-final takes place at Eden Park.
Better known as a rugby venue, the ground’s short straight boundaries were expected to lead to a glut of fours and sixes during the World Cup.
However, Eden Park has staged two low-scoring thrillers during the tournament – New Zealand’s one-wicket win over fellow co-hosts Australia and Pakistan’s 29-run defeat of South Africa.
Nevertheless, the big-hitting Miller is aiming to cash in any way he can.
‘Hopefully, I can mishit a few straight sixes,’ he said. ‘That’s just the way the field is and it’s cool to be playing on it.’
The 25-year-old Miller, appearing in his first World Cup, started the tournament with a career-best 138 not out in a win over Zimbabwe in Hamilton.
The left-hander has made two subsequent 40s, but he fell for a duck at Eden Park during the loss to Pakistan in pool play.
However, Miller said he hoped his previous experience of Eden Park would prove beneficial.
‘It’s my first time in New Zealand so it’s good to have already played a game here and just to get the feel of the ground itself, the dimensions of the field,’ he said.
‘It’s just something to get used to and obviously the feel of the crowd. It’s going to be huge on Tuesday.’