There will be a first at Eden Park no matter the result. Whether it is New Zealand or South Africa that prevail, it will be the victor’s debut appearance in a World Cup final.
If the chance to make history for their country wasn’t enough of a motivation, then ending the pain of failed bids from tournaments past is an additional driving force.
The pair have played in nine semi-finals before this one and lost every single one. New Zealand contribute six appearances to that total, yet it is AB de Villiers’ Proteas that are defending themselves against a choking reputation.
With the Kiwis rated as marginal 11/10 outsiders by Ladbrokes, it will no doubt be another case of South Africa failing to perform under pressure should they fail to make good on their 8/11 favouritism.
Such prominence in the market is misguided though. The Black Caps are unbeaten in their co-hosting campaign and have a nine-game winning run when ODIs prior to the World Cup are considered.
On the other hand South Africa have lost twice, one of which came at Auckland, and have had the look of a side still striving for the perfect XI despite playing seven games to this point.
Both teams progressed serenely through their quarter-final assignments but one man, Martin Guptill, stole the headlines.
The Black Cap opener pummelled the record Chris Gayle set weeks earlier into insignificance, with his unbeaten 237 against the West Indies easily trumping Gayle’s 215 as the highest ever World Cup score.
While likely to be riding high, the rangy right-hander will return to earth against South Africa. He averages 11.50 in 11 outings against them, with nine single-figure scores including two ducks. It is 5/6 he scores under 28.5 runs at Eden Park.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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