Warmup Match: Game 6
Stadium: ACA Stadium, Kamrup Metropolitan, India
2 October 2023
New Zealand form
New Zealand enters this match well-prepared after undergoing significant training on the sub-continent. They secured an ODI series victory in Bangladesh before heading to Hyderabad, India, where they emerged victorious in a World Cup warm-up match against Pakistan.
During their win over Pakistan, the Black Caps utilized a total of eight bowlers, with half of them being spinners, while only Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry provided genuine pace. Henry, at times, extracted steep bounce, while Ferguson entered the attack later as New Zealand's sixth-change option. This provided insights into their potential bowling strategies for the Cricket World Cup.
The availability of Tim Southee, who is recovering from a thumb injury, remains uncertain, but Trent Boult's return to the squad should alleviate concerns regarding Southee's fitness. It will be intriguing to see if Boult is included in the lineup for this match against South Africa.
In terms of batting, New Zealand's middle order gains considerable strength with the return of Kane Williamson. He delivered a half-century against Pakistan and showcased impressive partnership skills with all-rounder Daryl Mitchell. Additionally, Rachin Ravindra's composed innings of 97 against Pakistan could be a promising sign of his form heading into the match against South Africa.
New Zealand Predicted Lineup
Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.
South Africa form
South Africa would have ideally preferred to enter this fixture on the back of a victory against Afghanistan. Unfortunately, that match was abandoned without a single ball bowled. Consequently, the anticipated experimentation with personnel combinations had to be postponed until this encounter against New Zealand.
The Proteas will continue to miss the services of their captain, Temba Bavuma, who briefly returned home but is expected back after the team's World Cup warm-up matches. In Bavuma's absence, Aiden Markram will continue to lead the XI. However, South Africa is facing the absence of fast bowlers Sisanda Magala and Anrich Nortje for the entire tournament.
The recent additions of all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo and seamer Lizaad Williams as replacements could prove valuable for the Proteas. Williams and Phehlukwayo bring versatility to the bowling attack, particularly in favorable conditions, and the latter also contributes significantly with the bat. There is a possibility that both may feature against New Zealand, even if they aren't part of the first-choice XI going forward.
Markram's primary role in the team is as a batsman, although he can provide some useful spin bowling. Similar to the strategies employed by New Zealand with Glenn Phillips and Australia with Glenn Maxwell, South Africa might consider utilizing Markram to deliver some early overs, thereby gaining a better understanding of their backup spin options alongside specialist spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi.
South Africa Predicted Lineup
Tamba Bavuma (C), Quinton de Kock (Wk), Gerald Coetzee, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie Van Der Dussen.
Expert betting tips
The Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram has never hosted any format of international cricket, be it Test, ODI, or T20I. Nevertheless, it serves as a suitable venue for this World Cup warm-up fixture and another scheduled next week between India and the Netherlands. It's highly likely that the captain winning the toss will choose to bat first.
This pattern of opting to bat first has been observed in the first two completed warm-up matches of this World Cup. However, it's noteworthy that both decisions did not culminate in victory. Nonetheless, the captains aim to provide their batsmen with an early experience of the playing conditions, while also giving their bowlers an opportunity to operate on pitches that may slow down as the game progresses. In India, several pitches tend to deteriorate over time, not significantly, but enough to indicate that spin will likely play a substantial role. Thiruvananthapuram's conditions are expected to follow a similar pattern, possibly even prompting the consideration of opening the bowling with a spinner.
The 2023 World Cup warm-up matches have seen teams posting totals ranging from 260-plus to around 340. Early in the innings, when the fielding restrictions are in place and the pitch is still fresh, there's ample opportunity to score quickly. A competitive first-innings total in this context should be around the 300-run mark.
Regrettably, the damp weather that caused the recent abandonment of the warm-up match between Afghanistan and South Africa is anticipated to persist. A complete fixture is unlikely, and a shortened contest would favor the team batting second. South Africa has historically struggled in Cricket World Cups, and New Zealand has often been a challenging opponent for the Proteas. While this is a warm-up match and not the official tournament, the advantage should lean towards New Zealand, especially if rain intervenes in the game.
It's worth noting that South Africa recently defeated Australia in an ODI series, but that took place in South Africa. This match, on the subcontinent, where New Zealand has already secured victories against Bangladesh and Pakistan, should be advantageous for the Black Caps. Considering their recent experience in these conditions, bet on New Zealand to emerge victorious.