World Cup 2023: Years of preparation, unparalleled hard work and efforts, and it all comes down to this now. After more than a month of intense competition with the teams trying their best to streamline all their efforts into positive results – the knockout stage is where you are judged the most. It’s that time of the 2023 World Cup now. 4 proud teams – India, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, 2 rivalries and there is just 1 prize that can turn the future of any cricket country.
The World Cup 2023 might have just three matches now but those three are the ones that will be remembered for a lifetime. India are up against their knockout bogey team New Zealand, while South Africa are up against their nightmares Australia. Who can forget the 2019 World Cup semifinal day in Manchester and no one can surely forget the AUS vs SA semifinal in Birmingham 1999. The wounds are still afresh as numerous hearts were broken but several were also healed. These four have some rich cricket traditions and some fierce rivalry between them.
New Zealand’s love affair with India
India and New Zealand have faced each other in three ICC knockout matches and it’s always the Kiwis that have propelled over the Men in Blue. If you ask an Indian fan of a team which they love the most after India, New Zealand and South Africa might be the answers. But the Kiwis have also made the Indian hearts break, not once or twice but thrice in ICC elimination games. It was in the 2000 ICC Knockout (Champions Trophy) that the Kiwis inflicted the first blow to the Indians.
At the turn of the century, a spirited New Zealand side defeated the Indians to clinch their first ICC title in 2000 in the final of that tournament. It took 19 years for these two to come together in another ICC knockout but the Blackcaps caught the Indians wanting on challenging conditions in the rain-hit ODI semifinal to end their dreams in Manchester. Only if they would have settled for it, the next meeting should have belonged to the Men in Blue. But they have a love affair with India in knockouts as the Kiwis defeated India in the final of the World Test championship in Southampton 2021 to make it 3-0 over the Indians. However, in their last three ODI World Cups, New Zealand have been knocked out by one of the hosts’ and the 2023 hosts are in the red-hot form now. These numbers are good for knowing but it all comes down to who is better on a particular day and both of them have it in them to show this.
South Africa vs Australia again
The Proteas have made it to the semifinals yet another time after missing it out in 2019. But Australia are surely not the opponents they would have wanted to face. Just for the fact, Australia are the possibly best team to play in knockouts, as they have only 2 losses before a final of the ODI World Cup in nine knockout appearances. South Africa are probably the worst with just two knockout wins (quarterfinals) in six appearances. Add to this, South Africa have suffered heartbreaks against Australia twice in the semifinals already.
But this Proteas attack is a giant when they bat first. They have pummelled huge scores with their top six going berserk and Australia’s bowling has not been the top-notch that they would have expected. But in the chase, the South African have choked at times, a tag with which they are usually referred to. This time around, they would not only be in competition with Australia but also with themselves to take that tag away and make their first final appearance in ODI World Cup history.
Fans will be going berserk and the decibels shall reach the stratosphere as these four fight for the ultimate glory which will add another chapter to their cricketing rivalry.
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