Rugby team’s grit inspires New Zealand ahead of World Cup 2023 clash with South Africa
Both Black Caps and Proteas are comfortably placed and will look to win the game to take a giant stride towards the semi-finals.
South Africa batter Aiden Markram and New Zealand batter all-rounder Rachin Ravindra (ANI Photos)
India Weekly Staff
NEW ZEALAND captain Tom Latham hopes to summon the fighting spirit of the All Blacks when his side face fellow Cricket World Cup semi-final contenders South Africa in Pune.
Wednesday’s match comes just days after South Africa edged New Zealand by a point in a dramatic Rugby World Cup final in Paris, where the beaten All Blacks had to play most of the game a man down after skipper Sam Cane was sent off.
Latham’s men also suffered a narrow defeat last time out, going down by five runs against Australia after just failing to chase down a huge target of 389.
“That was obviously a fantastic game of rugby,” Latham told a pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“But I guess you look at the All Blacks as a whole, they played some great rugby throughout the World Cup.”
He added: “I think you look at the final and I guess the Kiwi way is we look to scrap the whole way, obviously faced with a little bit of adversity in terms of being down to 14 men.
“I guess it’s something we talk about in our team as well — we scrap right to the end regardless of the situation.
“I think we showed that the other night as well, taking the game as deep as we can and if we can do that, then hopefully that gives ourselves a good chance towards the back end of the game.”
As for the match in front of his side, Latham said New Zealand would face a “really hot” South Africa, with their lone defeat so far this World Cup a shock loss to the Netherlands.
The Proteas’ top order has repeatedly overwhelmed their opponents, with South Africa posting 399 in their 229-run rout of reigning champions England.
“South Africa, they’re running really hot at the moment,” said Latham.
“And they’ve got a lot of power throughout the whole line-up.”
But he added: “We certainly know we’ve got a world-class bowling attack as well…It’s going to be a great contest tomorrow.”
South Africa, however, looked far less assured when subjected to the pressure of chasing against Pakistan last time out, suffering several stumbles before scraping a one-wicket in pursuit of 271.
“Sometimes you could look at the opposition and what they want to do, but for us, it’s always been about focusing on us and what’s best for us as a team,” said Latham, whose side have also lost to unbeaten World Cup hosts India.
New Zealand still have injury doubts over regular captain and star batsman Kane Williamson (thumb), fast bowler Lockie Ferguson (Achilles) and all-rounder Mark Chapman (calf).
“We’ll get through a bit of work today and then we’ll see how they pull up from a selection point of view,” said Latham.
“Lockie went off in the last game with a bit of an Achilles’ niggle, so fingers crossed he’ll be fine for tomorrow.”