South Africa lick wounds after more World Cup agony

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Captain Faf du Plessis was left contemplating the ruins of another World Cup campaign on the ground where South Africa experienced their greatest heartache in the competition 20 years ago.

The Proteas' hopes of reaching the semi-finals in England and Wales are all but over after a four-wicket defeat by New Zealand on Wednesday.

One minor consolation is that the recriminations from Wednesday's reverse at Edgbaston are unlikely to be as great as those at Warwickshire's headquarters 20 years ago when a disastrous run-out saw them tie with Australia and miss out on the final due to an inferior net run rate.

South Africa are still alive at the World Cup but with just one win from six matches it would take an extraordinary combination of results to see them into the semi-finals from a 10-team round-robin group phase.

On Wednesday, South Africa fought hard to get to 241 for six on a difficult pitch after losing the toss.

And it so very nearly proved enough, with New Zealand needing a superbly paced 106 not out from captain and star batsman Kane Williamson to see them home with just three balls to spare.

Fans of AB de Villiers will argue this proves the Proteas were wrong to refuse the gifted batsman's offer to come out of international retirement for the World Cup, but others will say the offer came far too late for it to be accepted by South Africa's selectors.

"Kane played a great knock, you know," said Du Plessis. "It's probably the difference between the two sides, just one guy taking it through.

"You need someone to go further, and we haven't had that."

Inevitably, given their painful World Cup history, the question of whether South Africa "choked" on Wednesday is bound to be asked.

"Choking", however, implies squandering a winning position, whereas this match in Birmingham was more of a see-saw contest determined largely by Williamson's knock.

Stuttering campaign

The New Zealand skipper is a world-class batsman and the truth is that South Africa's World Cup campaign was in trouble long before this fixture.

Losing Dale Steyn without the veteran fast bowler delivering a ball at the tournament was blow, but South Africa were gambling on the 35-year-old recovering from a longstanding shoulder injury.

Having tournament hosts England and another highly fancied side in India as two of their early opponents meant South Africa had a tough start and it was no surprise when they lost both of those matches.

But what really derailed their campaign was a 21-run defeat by Bangladesh, where the Tigers piled up 330.

Several South Africa batsmen got starts in reply, including Du Plessis, who made 62, but nobody was able to play the major innings required.

The Proteas' painful history at the World Cup is littered with self-inflicted wounds.

As well as the 1999 run-out debacle, they exited in 2003 after misunderstanding the rules governing rain-affected matches, and made the controversial decision to drop Kyle Abbott for what turned out to be a nailbiting semi-final loss to New Zealand four years ago.

South Africa did not help themselves on Wednesday when Williamson, who had then made 76, got a thin edge off Imran Tahir to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

The Proteas did not request a review, only for replays to show a nick.

"I think I was at long on at the time, and Quinny is the closest to the action," said Du Plessis. "That's not where the game was won and lost."

This World Cup could well mark the last appearance at the global showpiece for players in their mid-30s such as Du Plessis and Proteas opener Hashim Amla, who never really got back to his best after being hit on the head by a bouncer from England's Jofra Archer.

"If you look at our batting unit, we've got some future talent and some promising players, but if you put our top six and you put the other top sixes around the world, purely on a numbers point of view, we won't be in the top three," admitted Du Plessis.

New Zealand win toss and bowl in South Africa World Cup match

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and chose to bowl in a World Cup match against South Africa in Birmingham on Wednesday.

The match, delayed by a wet outfield for 90 minutes, was reduced to 49 overs per side and was due to start at 12:00 pm local time (1100 GMT).

"We are going to have a bowl, potentially a bit of weather and we will try and make in-roads with the ball," said Williamson, whose side were unchanged.

"We have come off an extended break so it's nice to be able to play the same side."

South Africa, who brought in paceman Lungi Ngidi for Beuran Hendricks, must win the game if they are to stand a realistic chance of reaching the semi-finals after finally recording their first victory of the tournament, against Afghanistan.

Despite that nine-wicket victory, Faf du Plessis's side are still languishing in eighth spot in the 10-team table after five games, with the top four qualifying for next month's semis.

After Wednesday's game, they will face Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia.

"The water, and the rain, meant we would have bowled first but it looks a good surface," said Du Plessis. "New Zealand are a good team playing good cricket and we have to be at our best to get a result.

"The last game was good. We had real intensity as a team against Afghanistan, which was great to see.

"We've got Lungi Ngidi back today. He's been a top bowler for us in the last few years."

New Zealand are flying high and a fourth win would lift the 2015 finalists to the top of the table ahead of matches against West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and hosts England.

Wet weather has caused major disruption at the World Cup, with four no results in which teams shared a point each.

Teams:

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wkt), Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult

South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (capt), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Lungi Ngidi

Umpires: Ian Gould (ENG), Nigel Llong (ENG)

TV umpire: Rod Tucker (AUS)

Match referee: Richie Richardson (WIS)

Wet outfield delays South Africa v New Zealand World Cup match

The toss in the World Cup match between New Zealand and South Africa in Birmingham on Wednesday was delayed due to a wet outfield after overnight rain.

The umpires made an inspection and decided they would carry out another check at 11:00 am (1000 GMT).

The pitch itself is uncovered and apparently dry but umpires Nigel Llong and Ian Gould said the Edgbaston outfield needed time to dry out.

"It's improving, they have done well, we are going to have another look at 11," said Gould. "It's the whole outfield that's the problem, we have had so much rain. Hopefully we will get some cricket at some stage shortly."

South Africa must win the game if they are to stand a realistic chance of reaching the semi-finals after finally recording their first victory of the tournament, against Afghanistan.

Despite that nine-wicket victory, Faf du Plessis's side are still languishing in eighth spot in the 10-team table after five games, with the top four qualifying for next month's semis.

After Wednesday's game, they will face Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia.

New Zealand, by contrast, are flying high and a fourth win would lift the 2015 finalists to the top of the table ahead of matches against West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and hosts England.

Wet weather has caused major disruption at the World Cup, with four no results in which teams shared a point each.

South Africa under pressure to beat NZ at cricket World Cup

South Africa is under pressure to beat New Zealand as the teams continue their combined 88-year quest for a cricket World Cup title when they meet at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

The South Africans must win to keep alive any realistic hope of a semifinal spot, following defeats to England, Bangladesh and India. Unbeaten New Zealand will leapfrog England and Australia to go top of the 10-team standings with a win.

Since the first edition of the tournament in 1975, South Africa has been a four-time semifinalist but never made the final. New Zealand lost the 2015 final to archrival Australia after beating South Africa in a classic semifinal in Auckland.

South Africa quick Lungi Ngidi is set to return after recovering from a hamstring injury, while opener Hashim Amla is 24 runs away from becoming the fourth Proteas player to reach 8,000 ODI runs.

Rain is possible in the morning before the weather is expected to improve in Birmingham.

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