South Africa will have to forget about last Wednesday’s historic win against Sri Lanka as they prepare to face favourites New Zealand in the semi-finals in Auckland on Tuesday.
The Proteas produced a complete performance in the quarter-finals, but will have to put that out of their minds as they gear up to face one of the co-hosts and a team who have just humiliated the West Indies in their own quarter-final clash on Saturday.
AB de Villiers and his men are aware that they haven’t won anything yet, so they need to stay grounded as they build up towards Tuesday.
New Zealand were the team who ended South Africa’s hopes at the previous World Cup, when they eliminated the Proteas in the quarter-finals.
But Kyle Abbott is unfazed: ‘We have had success against New Zealand in the past. We beat them last year in an away series, so I don’t really think it will make a difference for us. The key thing for us is to reset from Wednesday night and to focus on how we prepare for the game.’
Abbott and rest of the fast bowlers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, were the unsung heroes against Sri Lanka where they built and kept up the pressure in the first 10 overs with some quality fast bowling after De Villiers lost the toss.
They took early wickets, which meant the Sri Lankan batsmen had to take their chances against the spinners Imran Tahir and JP Duminy.
‘I have been fortunate enough that I have taken the new-ball my whole life, even at domestic level,’ Abbott said.
‘Even though we are at international level and at a World Cup it’s not a new thing for me. It’s been more a case of keeping my emotions in check. It’s been an emotional couple of weeks, it’s a huge honour and a privilege playing here, it’s something I have aspired towards for ages. The challenge for me is trying not to get too excited for a game.’
Abbott has been at the back of the pecking order behind Vernon Philander, but has come in with dominant performances every time he has been given an opportunity.
‘It’s quite a hard space to be in,’ he admitted. ‘Especially if the team is on a roll and there aren’t many changes and you are just sort of waiting. That’s the hard thing about it but it’s also quite exciting. You can get a gap and you look like a hero, so yes it can be difficult.
‘I’ve gotten a way around it, I make sure that I’m prepared for every game as if I’m going to play so it’s just a case of mentally switching on and going through your processes. You just have to wing it and go with it.’
South Africa are not expected to make major changes to the team who beat Sri Lanka, so it would be surprising if Abbott were to make way for Vernon Philander, especially since Quinton de Kock found some sort of form in the quarter-final chase.