In the 25th match of the entertaining World Cup 2019 extravaganza, New Zealand sealed a hard-fought 4-wicket victory over South Africa at Edgbaston, Birmingham. In the 49-over-per-side contest, the Proteas reached a fighting first innings totals on the back of half-centuries from Hashim Amla and Rassie van der Dussen and Lockie Ferguson did his job with the ball.
In the second innings, Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson composed a fabulous hundred to steer his team towards an emphatic win and in turn almost knocked out South Africa from the tournament as well. While New Zealand have reached the top of the points table with three wins in four games. On the other hand, skipper Faf du Plessis was left contemplating the ruins of another World Cup campaign on the ground where South Africa experienced their greatest heartache in the competition 20 years ago.
The Proteas’ hopes of reaching the semi-finals in England and Wales are all but over after a four-wicket defeat by New Zealand on Wednesday.
One minor consolation is that the recriminations from Wednesday’s reverse at Edgbaston are unlikely to be as great as those at Warwickshire’s headquarters 20 years ago when a disastrous run-out saw them tie with Australia and miss out on the final due to an inferior net run rate.
Kane played a great knock says Faf du Plessis
South Africa are still alive at the World Cup but with just one win from six matches it would take an extraordinary combination of results to see them into the semi-finals from a 10-team round-robin group phase.
“Kane played a great knock, you know. It’s probably the difference between the two sides, just one guy taking it through. You need someone to go further, and we haven’t had that,” quoted Faf du Plessis after the match on praising his counterpart for his match-winning 106-run innings.
Inevitably, given their painful World Cup history, the question of whether South Africa “choked” on Wednesday is bound to be asked.
“Choking”, however, implies squandering a winning position, whereas this match in Birmingham was more of a see-saw contest determined largely by Williamson’s knock.
This World Cup could well mark the last appearance at the global showpiece for players in their mid-30s such as Du Plessis and Proteas opener Hashim Amla, who never really got back to his best after being hit on the head by a bouncer from England’s Jofra Archer.
“If you look at our batting unit, we’ve got some future talent and some promising players, but if you put our top six and you put the other top sixes around the world, purely on a numbers point of view, we won’t be in the top three,” du Plessis concluded.