De Kock urges Proteas to keep heads in Kiwis ‘quarter-final’ - GulfToday

De Kock urges Proteas to keep heads in Kiwis quarter-final

South Africa World Cup

South African speedster Lungi Ngidi, who had to miss the last two matches because of a hamstring injury, trains in the nets. His return to the squad is expected to bolster the team’s bowling attack.

Quinton de Kock has told his South Africa teammates to keep their heads when they face New Zealand in a must-win World Cup match on Wednesday.

South Africa’s hopes of making the semi-finals would effectively be over if they lose at Edgbaston after a wretched start to the tournament.

Defeats to England, Bangladesh and India have left South Africa wicketkeeper-batsman De Kock billing the New Zealand match as a “quarter-final”.

A nine-wicket victory over Afghanistan on Saturday was their first win in this World Cup in England and Wales.

The Proteas cannot afford any more slip-ups in their remaining games against New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia if they are to maintain slender hopes of a semi-final berth.

De Kock admits South Africa’s chances of avoiding an embarrassingly early elimination will be wrecked if they do not cope with the stress of playing in a do-or-die situation.

“Obviously it’s a big game for us but, in saying that, our next three or four games that we have, they are all going to be big games for us for the rest of the tournament,” he said.

“We’re just going to have to go out there, keep our heads steady and play freely.

“Tomorrow is a quarter-final, I guess you could say it, but if we do win it, then it’s another big game again.

“We have to win all the games, not just focus on tomorrow. But in saying that, we know how good New Zealand are playing at the moment. They are a big team in World Cups. They always seem to step up.”

Unbeaten New Zealand are favourites to push South Africa towards the World Cup exit door and De Kock admits morale among Faf Du Plessis’s squad has not been as high as he would like.

“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 pressures and stuff.

“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on our energy going into the games, and the situation we’re in right now, our energy needs to be better than ever.”

Meanwhile, Boult has warned his side not to underestimate ‘hungry’ South Africa as their troubled opponents fight for World Cup survival on Wednesday.

The Black Caps will go top of the World Cup round-robin table if they beat South Africa at Edgbaston.

But the Proteas, with just one win from five matches, know they cannot afford another defeat if they want to maintain their slender hopes of a semi-final place.

“It’s a must-win in their tournament,” Boult said. “We’re looking forward to facing them and I am sure they are eager and hungry to put in a good performance, because it’s a big one for them.”

The stakes are not as high as in their meetings at the past two World Cups, with New Zealand winning the quarter-final clash in 2011 and a semi-final showdown in 2015.

“It’s a chance for us to go out there and perform and show we can bring the game and the style that we play back home in New Zealand very well, to test it against quality players in foreign conditions on a big stage, so we can’t wait.”

“As a unit we’ve been going really well. With the ball, we’ve put it where we wanted and we’ve put a lot of pressure on the teams that we’ve come up against,” Boult said.

“If we can continue to do it as a unit and obviously give us some lower totals to chase, then I will be happy.”

Agencies