Black caps warn Proteas

2015-03-22 15:00

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If Martin Guptill has any say in it, the cricket World Cup trophy is still a long way away from coming to South Africa.

The opening batsman yesterday showed, with his dazzling double century, that the unbeaten Black Caps will start their semifinal match against South Africa in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday as favourites.

Before Guptill’s exploits yesterday, the Proteas were viewed by many as favoured to win the Cup after their big quarterfinal victory over Sri Lanka in Sydney.

But JP Duminy, who was one of the Proteas’ big heroes in their victory by nine wickets – the team’s first up till now in a knockout match – was cautious.

“It was excellent for our self-confidence and now, more than ever, we believe we can win the World Cup. But it will mean absolutely nothing if we don’t go the distance.

“The pressure has eased a bit after the match against Sri Lanka, but we know there will be nerves and tension again before the semifinal.

“This win [against Sri Lanka] was a huge step in the right direction, but the World Cup is not won yet. If we win the semifinal, it will be another step closer, and anything can happen in the final.”

But thanks to Guptill (237*) the Kiwis are now firm favourites after amassing 393/6 in their quarterfinal against the West Indies before dismissing the Windies for only 250 – a victory by 143 runs.

Guptill, who batted right through the innings and smashed 24 fours and 11 sixes, had solid partnerships with Kane Williamson (33), Ross Taylor (42) and Grant Elliott (27).

He was dropped by Marlon Samuels in the first over of the match with his score on 4 and, after that, was merciless, especially towards Andre Russell (2/96) and Jason Holder (3/71).

Holder (42) and Chris Gayle (61) were the only Windies batsmen who managed to make any headway in the run chase, which was turned on its head early on by left-handed seamer Trent Boult (4/44).

“I am myself not entirely sure how I did it, but I’m very proud of myself and the team and hopefully we can win two more matches,” Guptill said after the match.

“I was fairly nervous when my score was on 199, but when I got past 200, Chris [Gayle] came up to me and said, ‘Welcome to my league.’ I found that quite amusing.”

Gayle had earlier scored the first double century in World Cup history in a group match against Zimbabwe in Canberra, Australia.

According to Guptill, who lost three toes in a freak accident when he was 14 and has, as a result, been known as Two Toes, his good footwork is one of the reasons for his recent success.

“It’s something I’ve been working on with Martin Crowe [former New Zealand captain]. Hopefully, I can maintain my batting standard against South Africa.”

Boult, with 19 victims, is the foremost wicket taker so far in the competition. He admits the Proteas are going to be more formidable than the Windies.

“South Africa have had their problems in the tournament, but we always knew they would be competitive,” he said.

“They literally have 11 match-winners on their team and it’s going to be a huge challenge. We will have to do our homework properly and put in a couple of good practice session in Auckland, but we’re first going to celebrate Martin’s success.”

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