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South Africa's final shot at reviving semi-final hopes
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South Africa's final shot at reviving semi-final hopes

South Africa enter into the contest against New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday with a final chance of reinvigorating their World Cup campaign in order to advance into the knockout stages of the tournament.

The Proteas finally registered their first win of the World Cup in the last game against Afghanistan where they defeated the bottom-ranked side in the ten-team table in a lopsided encounter by nine wickets.

However, it is the preceding games in the tournament that have dented the progress of South Africa, as they slump to three consecutive losses to England, Bangladesh and India before a washed out game against the West Indies.

Moreover, injury woes have further troubled Faf du Plessis' men as their key pacer Lungi Ngidi was ruled out of the cricket action for ten days while Dale Steyn has flown home after failing to recover in time.

The return to form for Imran Tahir will definitely lift the spirits of the South African squad as they seek inspiration from somewhere to topple New Zealand in the vital game.

Kane Williamson's team, on the other hand, has been unbeaten thus far in the tournament although they've arguably faced three of the weaker opponents in the competition.

New Zealand routed Sri Lanka in their opening World Cup game by ten wickets before sneaking past Bangladesh in a tight match and then cruising to victory against the minnows Afghanistan.

Their expectedly stiff challenge against India was subject to relentless rain causing the match to be abandoned without any ball bowled.

It is primarily the Kiwis' highly impressive pace attack that has troubled batsmen in the tournament with speedster Lockie Ferguson providing ample support to the new ball pair of Trent Boult and Matt Henry.

Ngidi's return to boost South Africa's bowling

Ngidi's timely recovery will help South Africa's cause as they have often been found short of a strike bowler at the start of the innings in previous games.

Chris Morris' role in the team is usually seen as someone expected to stem the flow of runs while Kagiso Rabada alone has been unable to put the pressure on opposition batsmen to deliver breakthroughs.

It will be interesting to note how much pace the youngster will muster considering this will be his first appearance since a nasty hamstring strain caused him to forgo bowling after delivering just four overs in the game against Bangladesh.

Proteas' opening pair under focus

South Africa have been shuffling their opening duo quite a lot in recent times in light of the flop showings by Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla to support the aggressive left-handed batsman Quinton de Kock.

Although they finally had a century stand at the top of the innings against Afghanistan, Amla looked far from fluent as he made an unbeaten 41 from 83 deliveries.

De Kock, meanwhile, insists his team has the mental strength to overcome their deficiencies in different aspects of the game and make a dramatic turnaround in the World Cup.

"Getting a win again has given us high hopes. It just becomes a mental game at a World Cup, trying to deal with all the pressure and stuff," he told media on the eve of the clash.

Squads

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie Van der Dussen, David Miller, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Beuran Hendricks, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell (wk), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor