A pumped up New Zealand’s energy will clash with the seemingly unmatched might of South Africa when the two teams strive to shed the past baggage of semifinal failures and seal a historic place in the cricket World Cup final on Tuesday.
Both the teams are chasing history for as neither host New Zealand nor the Proteas have ever reached the World Cup final.
The Kiwis have fallen at the semi-final stage six times in the past while South Africa has made three exits from the same stage.
New Zealand was a dominant side in the pool stage and the way they annihilated the West Indies in the quarterfinal, thanks to the batting pyrotechnics of Martin Guptill, the hosts are bubbling with new-found energy.
They have looked unstoppable with seven straight wins with every match throwing up a new hero, the latest being Guptill, who smashed his way to history books with a scintillating 237 not out against the Caribbean.
New Zealand has treated the rival attacks with utter disdain so far but in the Proteas, they face the might of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who when in form can devastate any batting line-up in the world.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said past failures won’t matter much since the two sides are playing gloriously.
“I don’t think there’s any baggage with anyone. It’s a one-off game and we are all desperate to be at the big party and I’m sure we’ll both turn up. Two sides are playing good cricket and it’s going to be a heck of a show,” he said.
The only worrying factor for New Zealand is that they have lost pace man Adam Milne to a heel injury, making way for young fast bowler Matt Henry in the squad.
It is the last match that New Zealand will host in this edition and they would love to sign off on home turf on a winning note but the opponents they are facing now are equally potent and more dangerous than any other team.
The pressure of expectations will be there from the home fans but skipper Brendon McCullum said they would not think about it much.
“The way we’ve been playing has been a pretty exciting brand of cricket. Just because it’s a pressure game we shouldn’t change that. It’s our greatest chance of success. For us to win World Cups and crunch games we need to remain true to that. That’s our most authentic style of cricket and I wouldn’t think that will change tomorrow,” he said.